Recent Posts

The Image Series: Open Wombs

The Image Series: Open Wombs

The Image Series invites HASTS affiliates and guest authors to write freely about one image relevant to their work.  To contribute to this set, contact Lan Li at lanli@mit.edu. The image above was found with other anonymous, anatomical illustrations, at the end of an eighteenth-century manuscript of Tibb-i-Akbar. Though the illustrations seem to be separate from the Tibb-e-Akbar, the text itself was written in Persian in 1700 by Muhammad Muqim Arzani, a Sufi physician from Gilan. When examining this anonymous, anatomical illustration, found appended to a manuscript of the Persian medical text Tibb-i-Akbar (1700), we see a woman holding open a flap of skin, inviting the reader to […]

The Image Series: Aveling and the Politics of Transfusion

The Image Series: Aveling and the Politics of Transfusion

The Image Series invites HASTS affiliates and guest authors to write freely about one image relevant to their work.  To contribute to this set, contact Lan Li at lanli@mit.edu. J. H. Aveling, `Immediate transfusion in England’, Obstetrics Journal, 1873, 1, 303. positions of patient and blood donor. Wellcome Library, London. In 1873, James Aveling proposed the first apparatus for immediate transfusion, a blood transfusion procedure characterized by the direct connection between donor and patient. Theoretically, immediate transfusion aimed to circumvent the problem of coagulation or blood clotting thought to be caused by the blood’s contact with the air. Aveling promoted his technological […]

The Image Series: Crania Americana

The Image Series: Crania Americana

James Poskett is an historian of science, race and print at the University of Cambridge. He is the current holder of the Adrian Research Fellowship at Darwin College where he is completing his first book on the global history of phrenology.  ‘Pawnee’, Plate 38, Samuel George Morton, Crania Americana (Philadelphia, 1839) Crania Americana is a disturbing book. Published in the winter of 1839, it features seventy-eight lithographic plates of Native North and South American skulls. The mastermind behind this grim project was the Philadelphia physician Samuel George Morton. Today, Morton is most often remembered as the founder of a distinctive ‘American […]

HASTS Mobile Seminar, 1st ed.

HASTS Mobile Seminar, 1st ed.

HASTS’s Mobile Seminar, 1st ed. (last week) was a lot of fun — at least that’s what the participants said — and it sounds like it’s something we’d like to do again soon. Stay tuned about a possible Denver edition in November, for those of you who will be going to AAA and 4S, and, weather-allowing, another in December. How it worked: we walked from the department, across the Mass Ave bridge, along the Esplanade, and back, over about an hour and a half. We partnered up for 40 minutes at a time, with the conversation focusing on each person for […]

The Image Series: 12 Meridians

The Image Series: 12 Meridians

The Image Series features HASTS students and guest authors who are invited to freely write about one image relevant to their work.  This is the first in a set of curated posts on the HASTS Blog.  To contribute to this series, contact Lan Li at lanli@mit.edu “The relationship among the avenues of the 12 jingmai (meridians)” Wang Xuetai, Acu-Moxa Handbook [Zhenjiu Shouce] 1966, p 58 It may not look like it, but the diagram above is a map of the body.   We usually think of body maps as ideal types (in the Ian Hacking sense), like anatomical atlases, but the map above illustrates physiology.  Or, […]

The Image Series: An Introduction

The Image Series: An Introduction

Lord Rothschild on a Giant Tortoise When my sister and I were growing up in the urban jungle of LA, Sundays meant waking up to the gentle thump of the thicker, fuller, denser version of the Los Angeles Times landing at our doorstep.  This was exciting. Not because we were worldly citizens at 8 and 10 years old, but because in the gentle thump contained the Sunday comics…in color!  COLOR!  Ok, color can sometimes be distracting (see chapter 8 of Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art), but at least the artists and editors took the time to add another dimension to their work. Which is why […]

On Ninjas & Data Analysis: STS at the Tokyo Trick Art Museum

On Ninjas & Data Analysis: STS at the Tokyo Trick Art Museum

Three stalwart companions in silliness; Tokyo Trick Art Museum, May 2015. Many thanks to Tim Highfield & Jasmine Li. Trick Art Museums—and their upstart rival Trick Eye Museums—are spreading rapidly across East Asia. Both museum franchises specialize in a particular kind of trompe l’oeil optical illusion designed for interaction and reproduction. According to the Trick Art website, the first Trick Art Museum opened in 1992 in Tochigi prefecture in Japan. There are currently eighteen dedicated galleries and museums in Japan alone, and Trick Art and Trick Eye franchises now span Tokyo to Singapore, Bali to Mongolia. You’ll find them in kitschy […]

Trusting Experts: How to reconcile STS and social psychology in the case of King. Vs. Burwell

[A modified version of a post that I wrote here on my personal blog.] In a few weeks, the US Supreme Court will hand down what could possibly be a historic decision in the case King vs. Burwell.  The case concerns the Obama Administration’s signature healthcare legislation: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sometimes just called the ACA or Obamacare (though this term is often used pejoratively by its opponents). The ACA rests on three pillars: regulations about the content and cost of a health insurance plan, the individual mandate that makes it compulsory for every resident to buy […]

MyIdol, Your Avatar, Playful Surveillance, & Ubiquitous Facial Recognition

MyIdol, Your Avatar, Playful Surveillance, & Ubiquitous Facial Recognition

Ever wanted to see what you’d look like with blue hair? In a bright red suit? How about pole-dancing in a panda costume? A new, free, iPhone app called “MyIdol” has captivated the likes of Conan O’Brien, Miley Cyrus, and all of my friends. The app, by Chinese company Huanshi Ltd., generates a 3-D avatar from any facial image that you enter. Based on the instructions given (which are in Chinese, although that hasn’t stopped thousands of users) you can take a selfie, input the image, and the software will begin to match vector points on your face to produce […]

Make-Your-Own Collaborative Twitter Account

The @sweden Twitter account is fascinating: It’s the official Twitter account for the country of Sweden, and each week it’s run by a different Swedish citizen. “Every week, someone in Sweden is @Sweden: sole ruler of the world’s most democratic Twitter account.” It’s a lovely point of inspiration. But how do you actually make a collaborative Twitter account? This post lays out one way of doing so, using my experiences with the @HASTS_MIT project—inspired by @sweden—as an example. If you want to know more about the project, please check out @HASTS_MIT: A Community & Public Scholarship Twitter Experiment.   1. Decide on your goals for […]