This is Dr Christopher Torrens’ personal physiology blog. That is to say it is my personal blog of physiology as oppose to a blog of my personal physiology. I am an Associate Professor in Physiology within the University of Southampton’s Faculty of Medicine, and when not teaching physiology or conducting physiological experiments I have decided to make a hobby out of writing a physiology blog. This is a hobby and while I hope to maintain it with reasonable frequency, there may be periods of inactivity.
Tweeting Starling is my attempt at outreach/public engagement and taking physiology out of the labs and lecture theatres and into the broader public. It began as part of Biology week 2013, when the Physiological Society hosted a competition on Twitter for the best physiology-based rhyme. I created a Twitter account, entered several attempts and ended up winning with my first entry. Some positive feedback during the competition and then ultimately winning convinced me that this was worth carrying on with, and so I am still going. The aim is to post a new physiology-based rhyme each Monday, but if feeling generous, or particularly inspired, I may do more.
The blog came along as a secondary idea, to act as a companion for the main twitter feed. The limited character availability on twitter can highlight a point, but it rarely not enough to explain it. The purpose of this blog is to provide a little more detail to the physiology mentioned in each rhyme as well as some context in as an accessible a style as I can manage. All content on the site is my own (unless otherwise stated) including the figures, which are painstakingly drawn on powerpoint (this though is true of all drawing on powerpoint). This originally existed as part of my Faculty webspace but the plan is to migrate this fully to this site in time. Over time hopefully I can get the two to synchronise… Until then, why not follow me on twitter (@chris_torrens) to get those weekly updates? No, really; why not?
The name for this site stems from the fact that this started (and remains) a twitter based endeavour and as a homage to the great Ernest Starling. Starling made a number of important observations, not least the two that are named after him: The (Frank) Starling law of the heart as well as the Starling hypothesis in relation to capillary fluid exchange. (A Life of Ernest Starling is an excellent biography).
In a meeting once, I and other delegates were asked to draw an animal that describes them. I think what was expected were lions and dogs in order to represent courage, loyalty or something equally dubious. Instead, I drew this starling and was disappointed that so few got the joke (if you look closely you will see it perched upon a characteristic cardiac function curve – that is not by chance you realise…).