Odra Noel, artist and doctor, painted this map of human cells representing continents and nations. It is on show from 2 July at the Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition in London. Here’s a paraphrased explanation of what each cell type symbolizes, which I swiped from the exhibition’s website:
- North America struggles with rising obesity, and this adipose tissue is more beautiful close up than you would imagine.
- Pulmonary tissue represent Central and South America where smoking and respiratory infections are a leading cause of death.
- Europe, with its ageing population, suffers greatly from neurodegenerative diseases, including dementia and is represented with neurones, brain tissue.
- Cardiac muscle cells represent the Middle East and Asia as these regions have rising levels of hypertension and other causes of heart and cardiovascular failure.
- The far East and the Pacific look beautiful in pancreatic acinar tissue; representing pancreatic failure or diabetes, a major problem in this area, often described as a diabetes epidemic.
- Greenland is sparse, dotted with a few sperm cells because infertility is a big problem there.
- The only artery is in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, the largest river in the world.
- Hidden are five mitochondria, the organelle responsible for producing energy and the current focus of much research into their key roles in death, disease and ageing.