These Rats Were Made for Walking

According to CNN, the folks at Johns Hopkins University, led by neurologist Douglas Kerr, now have proof that stem cells can help paralyzed rats walk again. I'm almost certain I'm going to get the science wrong here, but from what I gather the team cultivated embryonic rat stem cells in the lab until they developed neural precursors and then injected them into spinal columns of rats that had been paralyzed. Further, Science Magazine is reporting that about 11-15 rats regained motor skills from the experiments. While human experimentation is definitely in the future, the scientists are quick to point out that paralyzed pigs are next in line to benefit from the procedures (all animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others). Of course, the experiments will no doubt bring about even more debate. As stem cell researcher Clive Svendsen said in the Science story, "Of all the stem cells it's really only the embryonic stem cells that can make motor neurons."

A Very Brief History of Chamber Pots

Some of the oldest chamber pots found by archeologists have been discovered in ancient Greece, but portable toilets have come a long way since then. Whether referred to as "the Jordan" (possibly a reference to the river), "Oliver's Skull" (maybe a nod to Oliver Cromwell's perambulating cranium), or "the Looking Glass" (because doctors would examine urine for diagnosis), they were an essential fact of life in houses and on the road for centuries. In this video from the Wellcome Collection, Visitor Experience Assistant Rob Bidder discusses two 19th century chamber pots in the museum while offering a brief survey of the use of chamber pots in Britain (including why they were particularly useful in wartime).

A Tour of the New York Academy of Medicine's Rare Book Room

The Rare Book Room at the New York Academy of Medicine documents the evolution of our medical knowledge. Its books and artifacts are as bizarre as they are fascinating. Read more here.


More from mental floss studios