I’m a serious body geek. I like all sorts of things that have to do with the human body.
A couple of summers ago, after taking a spring anatomy class at a nearby college, I volunteered to work in the cadaver lab for a couple of extra units. It was solitary work and since I really enjoy dissection, I was enthusiastic about my project.
My friends, however, weren’t as enthusiastic. I remember clearly a moment when we were all sitting around a fire pit in a friend’s yard. She lives on a beautiful country property, with a rolling lawn surrounded by tall trees.
There was lots of laughing and chattering going on. Probably a little wine going down, too.
Someone asked me what I was doing now that the semester had ended.
“I’m doing an extra project in the anatomy lab,” I said.
“What kind of project?” she asked.
You know how sometimes there’s a weird, spontaneous silence? Well, there was one just as I said:
“I’m harvesting femurs from cadavers and preparing them to be used as teaching specimens.”
The silence lingered.
No one said a word.
I was acutely aware of the crackling of the fire.
Then finally, someone said, “Wow. We had no idea.”
And, just like that, someone else changed the subject.
Later that evening, another woman leaned over to me and said, “You’ve got to read Stiff. I’ve only heard about it but I think you’ll love it.”
And that is how, as a reader, I met Mary Roach.
Stiff: The Secret Life of Cadavers was science writer Mary Roach’s first book. Since then, she’s written about what happens after death (Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife), and now sex. Her latest book is Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex.
Recently, she shared “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Orgasm” in a TEDTalk.
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out 25 years ago as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader. The annual conference now brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).
Here are Mary Roach’s 18 minutes:
(Thanks to Boing Boing for the tip-off on this talk!)