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19th century Terminator arm found in hydraulic press

Craft & Design Science


Well, OK, it’s actually a prosthesis. And I stole the Terminator joke from Minnesotastan over at Neatorama. This object is one of literally thousands of remarkable items in the online Brought to Life exhibit at the UK’s Science Museum, where it is labeled, apparently incorrectly, as a “right” arm. What is it with surgeons confusing left and right appendages?


6 thoughts on “19th century Terminator arm found in hydraulic press

  1. crsmd says:

    Actually, this probably is a right FAWH prosthesis, palm up. First, the palm is concave if this is a righty, which is proper for the palm. Second, the distal phalanges would be curved toward the palm if this is a righty, also more consistent with normal anatomy. Lying with the palm up, and no substrate (like a fake rubber skin) to conform it, it has merely fallen into hyperextension at most of the joints. Turn it over and I think it would look less like a lefty.

  2. Nate says:

    Read the original article. There are more pics.

    Don’t look at it as an accurate re-creation of a hand. Look at how the joints are positioned and how each section of the digits is oriented. It’s operated by springs, and there’s no way they could bend toward what you’re calling the palm. This is a left hand. Also, the thumb is in a woefully awkward position on the “top” of the hand, were this a righty.

    Pretty cool, none the less.

    1. Martin Busby says:

      Crsmd had some good points, but after looking a little more closely with Nate’s comments, I agree that it is a lefty as shown. The hinge on the forefinger is what really convinced me. I think The distal phalanges are curved away from the palm for a gentler grip with more surface area available for touching/gripping an object. But what if the photo were flipped horizontally? Then it would appear to be a righty. I’m not mentioning this as a triviality, I’ve seen LOTS of pictures of musicians where I knew the picture was flipped, either accidentally, or by someone who thought the composition worked better that way. Anyway, loved the picture!

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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