Health Advice



Got Those Genes at Half-Price

Scott LaFee on

"It was not until I had attended a few postmortems that I realized that even the ugliest human exteriors may contain the most beautiful viscera, and was able to console myself for the facial drabness of my neighbors in omnibuses by dissecting them in my imagination." -- British physiologist-biologist-geneticist J.B.S. Haldane (1892-1964)

Medical History

This week in 1822, Charles M. Graham of N.Y. was issued the first U.S. patent for artificial teeth. The record and its details were lost in the great Patent Office fire of 1836, along with an 1817 patent by William R. Eagleson for setting natural and artificial teeth. False teeth had been used since the Colonial years as replacements for rotten teeth, which were extracted to avoid illness. George Washington famously wore them, though they were not made of wood, contrary to myth. His first dentures consisted of human teeth set into carved ivory. In 1789, dentist John Greenwood of New York made Washington a complete set from hippopotamus ivory, gold wire springs and brass screws holding human teeth. Washington's sole remaining natural tooth was a molar, and Greenwood fashioned a hole in the dentures to accommodate it.

Perishable Publications

Many, if not most, published research papers have titles that defy comprehension. They use specialized jargon, complex words and opaque phrases like "nonlinear dynamics." Sometimes they don't, and yet they're still hard to figure out. Here's an actual title of an actual published research study: "On human odor, malaria mosquitoes, and Limburger cheese."

Published in The Lancet in 1996, Dutch entomologist Bart Knols showed that the malaria-spreading mosquito Anopheles gambiae was particularly attracted to human feet and Limburger cheese, both of which can be quite stinky. Knols suggested the latter might be used for mosquito traps.


Med School

Match these five root prefixes with the part of the body they refer to.

1. Encephal/o

2. My/o


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