The United States National Library of Medicine has a fantastic online exhibit about the history of conjoined twins, beginning in medieval times. Titled "From 'Monsters' to Modern Medical Miracles," the site explores the science and culture of "Siamese" twins. Seem here is a plate from a 1499 book by Jacob Locher, Carmen heroicum de partu monstrifero
, "one of the earliest printed illustrations of a set of conjoined twins and the earliest printed work devoted entirely to the subject." From the site section titled "Age of Superstition":
From medieval times through the Enlightenment conjoined twins were viewed as monsters. Their existence simultaneously horrified and amazed the common person. The established medical explanation of the day, from Hippocrates, reasoned that a conjoined twin was simply the result of there being too much seed available at conception for just one child, but not enough for two distinct beings. Even so, popular theories fueled the public's fear and wonder by suggesting that conjoined twins were the result of impure conception or the witnessing of some evil or traumatic event during pregnancy.
Books depicting all sorts of monsters, both real and imagined, were extremely popular among the literate during this period. The authors often copied extensively from each other, bringing long told tales with new illustrations to another generation of the fascinated.
It’s the end of an era, sort of: Fraunhofer IIS, the developers of the MP3 audio compression format, announced that they are ceasing their licensing program. In a blog post, spokesman Matthias Rose says that it’s had a good 20-year run and is obsolete. But it’s also true that the decoding patents expired last year, […]
Freddy deBoer writes that he’s been telling the same joke for years about Silicon Valley’s only product, which might be universalized as “At last, a way to verb with nouns on the internet!” But the social-media techopoly is stable, now, and so the venture capitalists have moved on to the three terrible trends that will […]
Alex Wood is an addict but won’t give up his smartphone. But he has five strategies for limiting its control over him: “I used to wake up tired. My body would ache and my head felt sore, like waking up with a hangover. Finally, I took control, like attending an AA class for addicts, I […]
Yes, yes there is. The ultraportable Twisty Glass Mini boasts all of the simplicity of its forebear, while fitting just a little bit better in your pocket.The Mini is perfect for casual smokers, and anyone who doesn’t have the patience or fine motor skill for rolling papers. This piece keeps the convenient design of its older […]
Learning to code is a perfect way to grow your technical sophistication, and open up a host of new career options. But since most “learn to code” initiatives focus heavily on web development, it can be tough to find good resources for general-purpose computer science outside of a 4-year degree program. To get a broad […]
While many newer smartphones boast decent water resistance, most of us are still stuck with the kind of handsets that need to spend the night in a bowl of rice when they get wet. If you want to enjoy your favorite podcasts in the shower but are holding out for your next phone upgrade, this […]