2005-2006 University Distinguished Lecture Series

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    "'Slightly' Modified, Giraffes Would Make Great Fighter Pilots, and Bats, Great Cardiologists ... and Please Give Me a Heart That's Part Guinea Pig, Part Spider, Part Rat, and Part Goat ... or It's Lucky We're So Smart!"
    (Ohio State University, 2008-02-15) Hamlin, Robert L.
    Anatomical and physiological diversity within the animal population is manifested in many species which adapt well to environments in which others may perish, but much of this diversity is manifested in characteristics which, if possessed by humans, would provide them with exceptional capabilities. This presentation will describe properties of giraffes, bats, guinea pigs, spiders and goats that if present in humans would allow them to perform exceptional feats. Specifically: (1) the giraffe possesses the ability to tolerate great postural changes that if present in pilots would allow them to tolerate enormous accelerations; (2) bats perform ultrasonic-echolocation to identify minute structural features and motions far in excess of the capabilities of even the most sophisticated echocardiography that attempts to identify cardiovascular disease; (3) the guinea pig has circulation to its heart that would prevent most common heart attacks in humans; (4) the spider, having a muscle associated with its heart that actively sucks blood back to it, would not suffer from the abnormal cardiac filling in many humans with heart failure; and (5) the activation process of the goat heart is so perfect that abnormalities present in humans would not cause their hearts to skip a beat. In general, however, humans can survive without these capabilities... because we're so smart, but what if some of these properties could be transferred to humans?
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    Telling Stories in Medieval English Courts: Whose Voices Do We Hear?
    (Ohio State University, 2006-04-18) Hanawalt, Barbara
    Economic, social, and cultural historians confront the problem of establishing narratives, evoking personal experiences, and trying to find broader patterns and trends out of the obscure records of various written court records. Sometimes, but not often, storytellers were literate. Often their testimony was given in English and translated into French, the language the judges used, and then written down in Latin, which was the language of the court. Could the victim or the accused understand the language of the court as they stood before the bar? How do we know about these people, speaking in their own vernacular language, but filtered through official Latin translations, formulas of testimony, questioning by inquisitors, and distortions of scribes charged with recording the information? It is the sense of solving mysteries that keeps researchers going back to archives hoping to find some insight into daily life. We want to know people's attitudes toward personal affront or calumny, loss of life and property, and love. Could some emotional statement slip through the official record and give us, in the twenty-first century, some voice of the past? We also want to know who was listening at the time to these people who tell their tales of woe, of folly, of good intentions or bad. These people had an audience to whom they told their tales. What was the audience to take away? In accidental deaths, perhaps a didactic lesson is learned about the dangers of certain activities. In the case of a rape, the warning might be to young girls about dangerous places or times of day. In murders trials, the story might be an exculpating one. The stories were told repeatedly among community members and were woven into the number of tales that circulated and provided entertainment, education, and oral histories. We will, in this hour, listen to some of their stories.