Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day Corpses

In traditional Mother's Day form, I went to look at corpses with dear Mom today. It isn't quite as bad as it sounds, we went to the Body Worlds exhibit at the science museum. They are real corpses that have been treated by a plastics process to preserve and pose them in an effort to display various parts of the body. It was absolutely fascinating. As a nurse, my mom loved it. I found it a bit disturbing, but at the same time was mesmerized.

One of the more interesting things to me, was how they displayed the circulatory system. They pumped special plastics through the blood vessels, let it harden, then placed the bodies in a solution used to burn away the flesh and bone. The result was a complete body shaped construct consisting of every vein, artery, and capillary in the body. I had no idea this type of thing was even possible to do. Amazing.

There was also a pregnant woman, with her stomach cut away so you could see the baby curled up inside. It was bizarre just to know this was all real. I couldn't help but wonder what each one of these people's stories were as I was staring at their skinless bodies.

One of the most surprising things to me, was that most of these bodies were out in the open, no protective glass or anything. While there are signs indicating not to touch them, there was nothing from stopping you. I imagine glass isn't required for this type of thing since most people, myself included, aren't overly excited about touching dead people.

In addition to the full bodies, there were organs throughout the exhibit that were partially dissected to look at. I can't think of an organ that wasn't on display individually. If one wasn't on display, I'm not aware that it exists. This was truly like slicing apart the human body yourself and digging around without getting your hands soaked in blood or having to do 20 years to life for doing so.

I'd highly recommend you check out this exhibit if it is in your town.


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