Symmetry and Asymmetry

I love summer reading—mysteries and thrillers and anything but yoga and anatomy books that bore me to death. And once in a while you read something that teaches you while it thrills you. Such is the case with books I recently read by author and doctor Josh Bazell, who fills his story’s with footnotes that often include meditations on anatomy and biology. And without giving away too much, his first novel, Beat the Reaper, has an insanely anatomical denouement.

Symmetry and Asymmetry

From the outside, I see the body, especially the skeleton, as being very symmetrical—the bones of the arms and legs in particular follow an interesting 1,2,3,4,5 progression. There is one arm bone (humerus) to match one leg bone (femur). Two bones make up the forearm (radius and ulna) and shin (fibula and tibia). Three bones make up the ankle complex (talus, calcaneus, navicular) and three carpal bones comprise the first layer of wrist bones, while another layer of four carpal bones completes the wrist to go with the four bones of the mid-foot (cuneiforms and cuboid). We finish with five fingers and five toes. Cool stuff.

At one point in Beat the Reaper, Bazell writes about reading a cat scan and waxes about the lack of symmetry inside of the body.

Your heart and spleen are on the left with the liver and gall bladder on the right. Your left lung has two lobes while the right has three. Your left and right colon are different widths and follow differently shaped paths. The vein of the right gonad drains directly towards heart while the vien of the left joins the vien of the left kidney.

And in the context of my walking program-

If you are male your left gonad hangs even lower than your right to accomadate the scissor motion of the legs.

I take my learning where i can get it but I especially appreciate being entertained while doing so.

Get Beat the Reaper on Amazon.


Good Posture: Stop Taking Your Shoulders Back
The Happy Homunculus: I Am Not This Body


sp anatomy