Purkinje and his cell

A hundred thousand hourglasses – on the Purkinje cell:

If a mid-19th century European—a Prussian, let’s say—wanted to contact famed Czech histologist Jan Evangelista Purkinje, he only needed to address his envelope with two words: Purkinje, Europe; so large was Purkinje’s renown, that his dwelling was an entire continent…

Born in 1787 to a housewife and a German priest, Purkinje was raised in Bohemia (now Czech Republic) and graduated in 1818 with a degree in medicine. He was soon appointed as a Professor of Physiology at Prague’s Charles University where he taught and conducted research on human anatomy. In addition to discovering Purkinje images (reflections of objects from structures of the eye) and the Purkinje shift (the change in the intensity of red and blue colors as light intensity ebbs at nightfall) he also proposed the scientific term for plasma, the colorless fluid part of blood, lymph, or milk, in which corpuscles or fat globules are suspended. Today, his name also adorns a university in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic; a crater on the Moon; and a small asteroid (#3701), but he lives on—commemorated best, I like to think—as an elegant cerebellar cell.

That I did not know about Purkinje! Go read this beautiful essay on the Purkinje cell.

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