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11 Body Parts Named After People

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Who is Paul Langerhans, and how did his islets wind up in your pancreas? Good question. Although lots of body parts take their names from Greek or Latin, more than a few are named after people. How well do you know the folks whose names are all over your body? Let's take a look at a few of these scientists and their anatomical namesakes.

1. Canals of Schlemm

Schlemm's canals are tiny channels in the eye that move aqueous humor, the watery fluid that resides between the lens and the cornea. The canals are named after 19th-century German anatomist Friedrich Schlemm, a University of Berlin professor who also discovered corneal nerves.

An interesting story about Schlemm: according to recent historical research, when Schlemm was a 21-year-old medical student he teamed with a classmate to disinter a recently deceased woman with rickets. Schlemm and his buddy took the corpse back to their lab to study how the disease had affected the woman's bones, but they were eventually caught and had to spend four weeks in jail for the grave robbery.

2. Fallopian tubes

As anyone who's passed a sex ed class might remember, Fallopian tubes are the thin tubes that lead from the ovaries to the uterus in female mammals. They're named after 16th-century Italian anatomist Gabriele Falloppio, who also went by the Latin name Falloppius. Although Falloppio focused on the head in most of his own research, he also did some work with the reproductive tract.

In addition to discovering and describing the tubes that bear his name, he also studied syphilis and gets credit for sponsoring what may have been the first clinical trial of condoms around 1546. Falloppio's contraceptives were made of chemically treated linen that wearers tied on with a ribbon; he wrote that they helped decrease the rate of syphilis transmission.

3. Islets of Langerhans

No, it's not a tiny archipelago off the coast of Newfoundland. The islets of Langerhans are actually the parts of the pancreas that contain endocrine cells. Although they only make up 1 to 2% of the pancreas' mass, they have a lot of important functions, like secreting insulin. The islets are named after Paul Langerhans, a precocious 19th-century German pathologist. Langerhans made his breakthrough discovery at the age of 22 when he described "islands of clear cells" in the pancreas.

4. Langerhans cells

We weren't kidding when we called him precocious. When he was just 21, Langerhans also discovered and described Langerhans cells, a subset of skin cells concerned with immune responses. Although he mistakenly hypothesized that the cells had something to do with the nervous system, Langerhans was the first to isolate them, so they bear his name.

5. Organ of Corti

The tiny organ in mammals' inner ears that contains the hair cells that make hearing possible is named after Italian anatomist Alfonso Giacomo Gaspare Corti, who discovered it in 1851.

6. Cowper's glands

These small exocrine glands—also known as bulbourethral glands—are located at the base of the penis and help optimize conditions for sperm in the urethra during sexual arousal. The Cowper's glands are named after William Cowper, a 17th- and 18th-century British anatomist who made an early description of the glands.

Don't think for a second that an anatomist in Cowper's time had a boring life, either. In 1698, he published the watershed text The Anatomy of the Humane Bodies, which featured dozens of painstaking illustrated plates and quickly turned Cowper into a superstar anatomist. The only problem was that the plates weren't really Cowper's; he had lifted them from an earlier commercial flop by Dutch physician Govard Bidloo and written new copy to go with them. Unfortunately for Bidloo, Cowper didn't acknowledge his Dutch counterpart's contributions, and a bitter feud ensued that lasted for the rest of Cowper's life.

7. Bartholin's glands

Women may not have Cowper's glands, but they do have the homologous Bartholin's glands. These two glands lubricate the vagina in much the same way the Cowper's glands prepare the urethra for sexual activity. Their name comes from Danish anatomist Caspar Bartholin the Younger, who was active in the 17th and 18th centuries and first described the glands.

Discoveries like this must have come naturally to Bartholin. His grandfather, Caspar Bartholin the Elder, published the first description of the olfactory nerve, and his father, Thomas, wrote the first comprehensive study of the human lymphatic system. His uncle Rasmus also has a body part named after him: the major sublingual duct, part of the sublingual salivary glands, is known as the duct of Bartholin.

8., 9. & 10. Bowman's capsule, membrane & glands

Bowman's capsules are cup-shaped structures around the glomerulus of each nephron in a kidney. The capsule helps filter out waste and excess water. Bowman's capsules are named after 19th-century English anatomist and ophthalmologist Sir William Bowman, who identified the structures in 1842 when he was 25 years old.

Not content to rest on his laurels after making one major discovery, Bowman pressed on with his work, and Bowman's membrane—a smooth, thin layer of the eye—also bears his name. Bowman's glands, a set of olfactory glands, are named for him, too. People in high places took notice of Bowman's prodigious research output; Queen Victoria created him a baronetcy in 1884.

11. Eustachian tubes

Everyone's familiar with "popping your ears" to equalize pressure after a flight, but fliers aren't actually popping anything. Instead, they're opening their Eustachian tubes to equalize the pressure between their ears and the atmosphere. These tubes, which also help drain mucus away from the middle ear, are named after 16th-century Italian scientist Bartolomeo Eustachi, also known as Eustachius.

Eustachi discovered all sorts of new information about the structure of the ear, and today he's known as one of the fathers of human anatomy. But he didn't get too much credit in his day. In 1552, Eustachi completed the text Anatomical Engravings, which showed an ahead-of-its-time understanding of the human body. Eustachi didn't dare publish his work, though, for fear of excommunication from the Catholic Church. The manuscript hung around for decades, and eventually reached publication in 1714, when it became a bestseller and illuminated just how much progress Eustachi made.

This post originally appeared in 2009.

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8 of the Weirdest Gallup Polls
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Born in Jefferson, Iowa on November 18, 1901, George Gallup studied journalism and psychology, focusing on how to measure readers’ interest in newspaper and magazine content. In 1935, he founded the American Institute of Public Opinion to scientifically measure public opinions on topics such as government spending, criminal justice, and presidential candidates. Although he died in 1984, The Gallup Poll continues his legacy of trying to determine and report the will of the people in an unbiased, independent way. To celebrate his day of birth, we compiled a list of some of the weirdest, funniest Gallup polls over the years.


According to this Gallup poll, 75 percent of Americans have at least one paranormal belief. Specifically, 41 percent believe in extrasensory perception (ESP), 37 percent believe in haunted houses, and 21 percent believe in witches. What about channeling spirits, you might ask? Only 9 percent of Americans believe that it’s possible to channel a spirit so that it takes temporary control of one's body. Interestingly, believing in paranormal phenomena was relatively similar across people of different genders, races, ages, and education levels.


In this poll, Gallup tried to determine the popularity of heliocentric versus geocentric views. While 79 percent of Americans correctly stated that the Earth revolves around the sun, 18 percent think the sun revolves around the Earth. Three percent chose to remain indifferent, saying they had no opinion either way.


Gallup first measured anti-Mormon sentiment back in 1967, and it was still an issue in 2011, a year before Mormon Mitt Romney ran for president. Approximately 22 percent of Americans said they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate, even if that candidate belonged to their preferred political party. Strangely, Americans’ bias against Mormons has remained stable since the 1960s, despite decreasing bias against African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and women.


This 2010 poll amusingly confirms the stereotype that southerners are more religious than the rest of the country. Although 42 percent of all Americans attend church regularly (which Gallup defines as weekly or almost weekly), there are large variations based on geography. For example, 63 percent of people in Mississippi attend church regularly, followed by 58 percent in Alabama and 56 percent in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Utah. Rounding out the lowest levels of church attendance, on the other hand, were Vermont, where 23 percent of residents attend church regularly, New Hampshire, at 26 percent, and Maine at 27 percent.


Although 76 percent of Americans knew that the United States gained independence from Great Britain as a result of the Revolutionary War, 24 percent weren’t so sure. Two percent thought the correct answer was France, 3 percent said a different country (such as Mexico, China, or Russia), and 19 percent had no opinion. Certain groups of people who consider themselves patriotic, including men, older people, and white people (according to Gallup polls), were more likely to know that America gained its independence from Great Britain.


This Halloween-themed Gallup poll asked Americans about their habits and behavior on the last day of October. Predictably, two-thirds of Americans reported that someone in their house planned to give candy to trick-or-treaters and more than three-quarters of parents with kids reported that their kids would wear a costume. More surprisingly, 31 percent of American adults claimed to believe in ghosts, an increase from 1978, when only 11 percent of American adults admitted to a belief in ghosts.


This recent Gallup poll is funny in a sad way, as it sheds light on the tragicomic life of a millennial. In this poll, well-being is defined as having purpose, social support, manageable finances, a strong community, and good physical health. Sadly, only 5 percent of working millennials—defined as people born between 1980 and 1996—were thriving in these five indicators of well-being. To counter this lack of well-being, Gallup’s report recommends that managers promote work-life balance and improve their communication with millennial employees.


If you seem to feel more stress, sadness, anxiety, and pain than ever before, Gallup has the proof that it’s not all in your head. According to the company’s worldwide negative experience index, negative feelings such as stress, sadness, and anger have increased since 2007. Unsurprisingly, people living in war-torn, dangerous parts of the word—Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, and Sierra Leone—reported the highest levels of negative emotions.

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11 Times Mickey Mouse Was Banned
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Despite being one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved characters, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Mickey Mouse, who turns 89 years old today. A number of countries—and even U.S. states—have banned the cartoon rodent at one time or another for reasons both big and small.

1. In 1930, Ohio banned a cartoon called “The Shindig” because Clarabelle Cow was shown reading Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn, the premier romance novelist of the time. Check it out (1:05) and let us know if you’re scandalized:

2. With movies on 10-foot screen being a relatively new thing in Romania in 1935, the government decided to ban Mickey Mouse, concerned that children would be terrified of a monstrous rodent.

3. In 1929, a German censor banned a Mickey Mouse short called “The Barnyard Battle.” The reason? An army of cats wearing pickelhauben, the pointed helmets worn by German military in the 19th and 20th centuries: "The wearing of German military helmets by an army of cats which oppose a militia of mice is offensive to national dignity. Permission to exhibit this production in Germany is refused.”

4. The German dislike for Mickey Mouse continued into the mid-'30s, with one German newspaper wondering why such a small and dirty animal would be idolized by children across the world: "Mickey Mouse is the most miserable ideal ever revealed ... Healthy emotions tell every independent young man and every honorable youth that the dirty and filth-covered vermin, the greatest bacteria carrier in the animal kingdom, cannot be the ideal type of animal.” Mickey was originally banned from Nazi Germany, but eventually the mouse's popularity won out.

5. In 2014, Iran's Organization for Supporting Manufacturers and Consumers announced a ban on school supplies and stationery products featuring “demoralizing images,” including that of Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Sleeping Beauty, and characters from Toy Story.

6. In 1954, East Germany banned Mickey Mouse comics, claiming that Mickey was an “anti-Red rebel.”

7. In 1937, a Mickey Mouse adventure was so similar to real events in Yugoslavia that the comic strip was banned. State police say the comic strip depicted a “Puritan-like revolt” that was a danger to the “Boy King,” Peter II of Yugoslavia, who was just 14 at the time. A journalist who wrote about the ban was consequently escorted out of the country.

8. Though Mussolini banned many cartoons and American influences from Italy in 1938, Mickey Mouse flew under the radar. It’s been said that Mussolini’s children were such Mickey Mouse fans that they were able to convince him to keep the rodent around.

9. Mickey and his friends were banned from the 1988 Seoul Olympics in a roundabout way. As they do with many major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Disney had contacted American favorites to win in each event to ask them to say the famous “I’m going to Disneyland!” line if they won. When American swimmer Matt Biondi won the 100-meter freestyle, he dutifully complied with the request. After a complaint from the East Germans, the tape was pulled and given to the International Olympic Committee.

10. In 1993, Mickey was banned from a place he shouldn't have been in the first place: Seattle liquor stores. As a wonderful opening sentence from the Associated Press explained, "Mickey Mouse, the Easter Bunny and teddy bears have no business selling booze, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has decided." A handful of stores had painted Mickey and other characters as part of a promotion. A Disney VP said Mickey was "a nondrinker."

11. Let's end with another strike against The Shindig (see #1) and Clarabelle’s bulging udder. Less than a year after the Shindig ban, the Motion Picture Producers and Directors of America announced that they had received a massive number of complaints about the engorged cow udders in various Mickey Mouse cartoons.

From then on, according to a 1931 article in Time magazine, “Cows in Mickey Mouse ... pictures in the future will have small or invisible udders quite unlike the gargantuan organ whose antics of late have shocked some and convulsed others. In a recent picture the udder, besides flying violently to left and right or stretching far out behind when the cow was in motion, heaved with its panting with the cow stood still.”


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