Meet Mathematical Man – or Woman, of course – a kind of twenty-first century update of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.
This illustration, compiled and created by a team led by physicist Danielle Bassett from the University of Pennsylvania, US, reduces the entire human body’s network of bones and muscles to precise mathematical co-ordinates.
The graphic arose because Bassett and her colleagues decided to apply a discipline known as network science – more commonly used to map computer systems – to human anatomy. In this exercise bones and muscles are reclassified as “balls” and “springs”, and the researchers say the simplification has the potential to provide better insights into how injuries to one part of the system affect operation in others.
“People who study biomechanics tend to focus on a single part of the body – the shoulder, the wrist, or the knee,” Bassett says. “Because that knowledge is so localized, they don’t have a way of connecting it to the rest of the body or to think about compensatory injuries that are far away.”
The research is published in the journal PLOS Biology.
Originally published by Cosmos as Human, by the numbers
Curated content from the editorial staff at Cosmos Magazine.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.