Medical students were not given much exposure to actual patients until William Osler introduced the idea of the teaching hospital at Johns Hopkins in the 1890s. Osler was inspired in his humanistic approach to medical care by the 17th century English writer and physician Sir Thomas Browne. Browne debunked the foolish beliefs of his day and coined many words we still use.
FMRI scanning of the brain provides graphic images of mental activity and is being used to probe everything from creativity to moral behaviors such as lying. The pictures are compelling, and increasingly commonly seen in the popular press, but how many people understand what they are really looking at?
Transplanting organs, whether from humans or animals, raises ethical and philosophical issues. Surprisingly, some of our attitudes to this surgical possibility have been long anticipated in tales of Classical mythology.