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Bones Inside and Out

Roy Meals

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No agreement on eaxctly how many bones in human body - "about 200". The big ones were msotly named by Greeks and Romans, so we have obvious names. scapula is Latin for shovel, as shoulder blade is basically a flat triangle. There's a big hole at the base of the skull where the spinal cord connects. It has the grand name foramen magnum which is Latin for .... big hole.

There is a set of bones called gastral bucket, which is an extra set of (floating) ribs. Found only in extinct prehistoric birds and dinosaurs, and in tuataras.

Penis bone is found in cats and dogs, and gorillas and chimps, but not in humans.

Bone healing helped by ultrasonic sound vibration. Sets up tiny peizoelectric shocks which mimic the rattling and shaking of walking.

Between knee and ankle we have two bones - the tibia (shinbone) which transfers all weight, and the fibula, which just supports ankle. The latter can be removed without loss, so often 'harvested' when surgeons need to repair a large gap in a broken bone elsewhere in the body.

Bone cancers rare bc less cell division so less chance of (harmful) mutations.

The skeleton is the heart's calcium bank. There are times during the day when calcium levels in blood fall (when we aren't eating) so heart 'borrows' needed calcium, then repays it when blood levels rise. When estrogen levels fall, partic with menopause, calcium contributions increase, weakening bones and increasing risk of fractures.

Vit D also essential to maintain calcium balance.

Trainees start out 'unconsciously incompetent. ("Hey I've never tried that but it looks easy") After some humbling experiences, they become 'consciously incompetent'. ("It's not as easy as it looks.") Then 'conscious competence' ("I can do this if I carefully go step by step.") Then, after years of practice, they become 'unconsciously competent'. ("It's easy, I just do it".)

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Today at least 1% of Americans have at least 1 artificial hip.

A German, Gerhard Kuntscher, invented a cloverleaf 'nail' strong enough to hold together a fractured thighbone. This was during WW2, and his work was only discovered when captured American pilots were repatriated and their xrays revealed the special nails.

More books on Inventions

1797 Josiah Spode perfected recipe for bone china, the hardest of all porcelain ceramics, delicately thin yet chip resistant. 12 parts bone ash (the calium and phosphorus compounds left after bone is baked in a high-temp, oxygen-starved oven), 8 parts china stone ( atypr of granite) and 7 parts china clay (an aluminium and slicon containing mineral). Still the recipe today.

Bone is a great source of phosphate that plants need, but it is not easily dissolved, meaning it takes a long time for a plant to incorporate it. But if you stir in sulfuric acid, make superphosphate, that plants can readily access.

More books on Food

Railways meant death of bison. Shot for sport, and sometimes their hides. Over 30 years 10s of millions of buffalo wiped out. Bison bones littered the prairie, and first settlers collected them for an income to tide them over until their first crops grew. A family could harvest a ton of bones in a day and sell them at railhead for $5 at a time when $10 was enough to get them through a week. By 1890 the prarie had been picked clean.

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