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Turning The Pages

Detail of the Edwin Smith Papyrus.
Project information

LHNCBC is no longer conducting active research on this project. Information is presented here for historical purposes.

Turning The Pages (TTP) is a computer system with touchscreen that allows users to touch and turn the pages of virtual books in an intuitive manner. Initially created by the British Library for use on a touchscreen monitor in a kiosk, the LHNCBC has significantly refined the original technology to simulate the act of easily flipping through virtual books.

Books available in our online include:

The Edwin Smith Papyrus: The Edwin Smith Papyrus is the world’s oldest surviving surgical text, written in Egyptian hieratic script around the 17th century BCE, but probably based on material from a thousand years earlier. The papyrus is a textbook on trauma surgery, and describes anatomical observations and the examination, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of numerous injuries in exquisite detail.

Anatomy of an Horse: Andrew Snape’s book, printed in London in 1683, is one of the most comprehensive and beautifully illustrated books about the horse published in Britain in the 17th century.

Wonders of Creation: The Kitab Aja’ib al-makhluqat wa Gharaib al-Mawjudat, usually known as “The Cosmography” or “The Wonders of Creation,” was compiled in the middle 1200s in what is now Iran or Iraq and is considered one of the most important natural history texts of the medieval Islamic world.

A Surgical Casebook: This is a manuscript of hand-painted pictures commissioned by Hanaoka Seishu, a pioneering Japanese surgeon who was the first to use general anesthesia to remove tumors from cancer patients.

Hieronymus Brunschwig’s Liber de Arte Distillandi: Printed in Strasbourg in 1512, this is a practical manual on chemical, alchemical, and distillation devices and techniques used to manufacture drug therapies.

Micrographia: or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies made by Magnifying Glasses was an illustrated introduction to the microscopic world that lay all around, written and drawn by Robert Hooke (1635-1703), an accomplished artist, biologist, physicist, and much more.

Historiae Animalium: Conrad Gesner’s Historiae Animalium (Studies on Animals) is considered to be the first modern zoological work.

De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body) is one of the most influential works in the history of Western medicine. It was conceived and written by 28-year-old Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), a professor at the University of Padua. Vesalius was both a gifted dissector and a learned scholar

Johannes de Ketham’s Fasiculo de Medicina: The Fasiculo de medicina consists of six independent and quite different medieval medical treatises. The collection, which existed only in two manuscripts (handwritten copies), was first printed in 1491, in the original Latin with the title, Fasciculus medicinae.

In addition to our online collection, LHNCBC's Communications Engineering Branch has developed a version of Turning The Pages program for iPad. The free app is available from Apple iTunes. Home users with an iPad and internet connection can enjoy access to rare medical books in the NLM collection through this app. The TTP for iPad is a compelling and nearly identical version of the virtual books in the kiosks. Five books are currently available: including Hanaoka Seishu's Surgical Casebook, and Hieronymus Brunschwig's Liber de Arte Distilland.

Thoma GR. Mobile App: Turning the Pages