90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
The Cultural History Of The Human Body

Human anatomy, 2013.  We take on the symbolism, meaning, and latest science on body parts, head to toe.

The human body is a living museum of cultural history.  Adam’s rib.  Rapunzel’s hair.  Gogol’s nose.  In history, science, myth, anthropology, literature, art – nearly every element of our anatomy has its moment, or many moments.

Medical science tells us more about more about function and genetic wiring.  But the stories and sayings that surround our anatomy are as powerful in their way as any science.  Pound of flesh.  Heart in our mouth.  Lily-livered.  Long in the tooth.

This hour, On Point:  we dive in to a new cultural history of the human body.  Our anatomies.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guest

Hugh Aldersey-Williams, author of “Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body.” (@hughalderseyw)

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times: Adam’s Rib, van Gogh’s Ear, Einstein’s Brain — “For a species so pleased with its own brain, we are surprisingly ambivalent about the rest of our body. We tend to admire other people’s bodies, especially if they’re Olympians or shirtless Russian presidents, but most of us are constantly seeking to improve our own by starving or stuffing, injecting, waxing, straightening, piercing, lifting and squeezing. In 2010 in the United States alone, we spent $10 billion on cosmetic surgery, and that’s not including Brazilian Blowouts.”

The Guardian: 20 amazing facts about the human body — “Goosepimples are a remnant of our evolutionary predecessors. They occur when tiny muscles around the base of each hair tense, pulling the hair more erect. With a decent covering of fur, this would fluff up the coat, getting more air into it, making it a better insulator. But with a human’s thin body hair, it just makes our skin look strange.”

Discovery News: Why Can’t Humans Regenerate Body Parts? — “So if a zebra fish can grow a new tail, why can’t we regenerate a new arm or leg — or a kidney or heart — whenever we need a new one? ‘Nobody really knows the answer,’ says David M. Gardiner, a professor of developmental and cell biology at the University of California-Irvine, who is a principal investigator in the UCI Limb Regeneration research program.”

 

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Oct 20, 2014
A statue of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on New York City's Roosevelt Island. (Flickr / Alexisrael)

Greatness and the American Presidency. Aaron David Miller says aim for good. Really good.

Oct 20, 2014
In this Oct. 2, 2014 photo, patrons line up for “Nightmare: New York,” a haunted house attraction in New York. (AP)

Afraid of snakes? Heights? Ebola? We’ll unpack the science of fear.

RECENT
SHOWS
Oct 17, 2014
Jazz violinist Regina Carter. (Courtesy of the Artist)

Regina Carter turns her jazz violin down home with her new album “Southern Comfort.”

 
Oct 17, 2014
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) Ky., center, and Democratic opponent, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, rehearsed with host Bill Goodman before their appearance on "Kentucky Tonight" television broadcast live from KET studios in Lexington, Ky.,Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. (AP)

The CDC in the hot seat on Ebola. Markets reeling. Mid-term fireworks. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Introducing The Explicast: A New Podcast From On Point Radio
Friday, Oct 17, 2014

Confused about the news? Don’t worry: so are we sometimes! Introducing a new On Point Radio podcast: The Explicast. You can find Episode One right here.

More »
Comment
 
Two LIVE Tracks From Jazz Violinist Regina Carter
Friday, Oct 17, 2014

Regina Carter shares two live tracks — one arrangement, and one original composition — with Tom Ashbrook in the On Point studio.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: October 17, 2014
Friday, Oct 17, 2014

We talk Facebook mishaps, whether Katy Perry was actually right and the glory of architectural giants and their iconic windows.

More »
Comment