Science Fun of the Week
(January 27th, 2017) Get ready for your weekly dose of science fun. Today: Colourful Disease.
No, these are not mutated clovers but an artistic rendition of pancreatic acinar tissue. The picture is part of a bigger image, a world map made of human tissues. This work, by biologist and artist, Odra Noel, was exhibited at the 2013 Royal Society's Summer Science Exhibition. It show the main causes of death around the world. Odra explains:
"If we need to pick a single cause, cardiovascular disease is the winner. And if we look into it in a little more detail, we see differences from area to area, not only in the causes of death but also in the diseases that are the greatest burden for those societies.
North America struggles with rising obesity, and this adipose tissue is more beautiful close up than you would imagine. Central and South America are represented here by pulmonary tissue; smoking and respiratory infections are a leading cause of death. Europe, with its ageing population, suffers greatly from neurodegenerative diseases, including dementia. Great swathes of the middle East and central Asia are shown here as cardiac muscle, as these regions are afflicted with rising levels of hypertension and other causes of heart and cardiovascular failure. The far East and the Pacific look beautiful in pancreatic acinar tissue; its failure causes diabetes, a major problem in this area, frequently described as a diabetes epidemic. And Africa is made of blood here. The only continent where the leading cause of death are transmittable diseases, notably malaria and HIV.
The small population of Greenland is marked by a few sperm cells (infertility); the only artery is in the middle of the Amazon rainforest; and hidden among the tissues are five mitochondria."