Radio mucho recommendo

This week, BBC Radio 4 launched a really excellent six-week series on the history of modern medicine, beginning with the Greeks.

Today’s episode was about Andreas Vesalius, the 16th Century Belgian doctor who single-handedly gave birth to modern anatomy (ewwww…bad mental image). He had a definite advantage over his predecessors, in that he got to cut up actual dead people, as opposed to monkeys and cows.

We’re even more fortunate that he left us the seven volume De humani corporis fabrica, illustrated with engravings by…well, we’re not sure who. But he was very good, whoever he was. The muscular anatomy plates are so clear and accurate, they’re still used by art students. I spent many a youthful hour copying his pensive skeletons and mincing flayed guys, like Overbite Man pictured above.

What I did not know is that ‘Andreas Vesalius’ is rendered in English as Andrew Weasel.

I am stonked with wonderousness.

If you have an interest in medicine or history or listening to people with really plummy accents, you’ve got to catch this one. Thirty episodes, beginning last Monday, at fifteen minutes each. They can be found on the series homepage. You’d better listen this weekend if you want to catch them all, though — Radio 4 usually hangs on to recordings for a week, and these are streams, not downloadable podcasts.


  1. Enas Yorl
    Posted February 10, 2007 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    It says that I need “Realplayer” installed. I’m wary of installing any new media players. Is this one safe?

  2. Posted February 10, 2007 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    You don’t have Real? That’s unusual. It’s the grandaddy of streaming players. Many people dislike it — both the software and the company. They used to hide the button to their free player on their web site, and for a while the player was really intrusive adware and whineware.

    I haven’t had any problems with Real at work lately, but I’ve just discovered I don’t have it on this machine. Oddly, FireFox whines for the plug-in, but Opera plays the file for me. BBC uses its own media player with Real underneath, so perhaps Opera has its own built-in .rm interpreter.

    On the whole, no…I guess I don’t recommend you download it, if you haven’t been polluted already. It’s safe, but it’s annoying.

  3. whitishrabbit
    Posted February 11, 2007 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    I think you’ve found a rendering of Thyl Uilenspiegel. He was a famous Belgian bubble-butt, always wiggling his ass at the Spanish authorities. That’s probly why they peeled his skin off. Look at those cheeks! If they could talk they’d be taunting Ricky Martin.

  4. mollie h
    Posted November 8, 2007 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    does anyone know if vesalius ever considered himself an artist too, or was it strictly medicinal?

  5. Posted November 16, 2007 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    That’s a good question, Mollie, and I don’t know. Probably more a doctor; the actual engravings would have been done by a professional engraver.

  6. Bobby Bob
    Posted January 6, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink


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