The Age of Science
Sir Christopher Wren (1632 – 1723)Most people know Sir Christopher Wren as the Architect of St Paul’s Cathedral and several other churches and buildings built as a result of the devastation caused by the great fire of London.
He is also known to medical science, and science in general, his friends included among others Sir Isaac Newton.
Wren was only fifteen when he began assisting a medical professor with his dissections, and kept working in medicine until the Great Fire of London in 1666.
However, in 1657, Christopher Wren injected opium into a dog’s vein, through a quill and thus became the first to inject intravenously.
Sir Christopher Wren’s bizarre ideas included using ale, wine or opium as substitutes for blood.
In his inaugural lecture as a professor, Wren argued that we wouldn't learn to use medicines by studying Hippocrates's aphorisms, rather, we should study the history of the diseases themselves. That too is something we take as axiomatic today.
This idea probably went down well with the drinking fraternity but for a scientist, there was not much scientific research done into the idea.
He was also a brilliant anatomical illustrator; he used his perspectograph an ingenious device that allows him to trace the lineaments of any object and was probably used to trace the topography of the brain, nerves and blood vessels. 1
He produced drawings for Thomas Willis's 1664 book "Cerebri Anatome" (The Anatomy of the Brain). This was a landmark publication in the history of neurology, not least because of Wren's detailed and accurate figures, which were among the very first modern images of brain anatomy.
However, in 1666 a small fire started in a Bakers shop in Pudding Lane, and started "The Great Fire of London", this destroyed countless buildings and landmarks including "London Bridge".
Christopher Wren now in his 30's became the architect that he was born to be. He went on to build not only the masterpiece that is "St Pauls Cathedral" but also fifty-one other London churches. He was given the licence to build most of the major government buildings in London.
He was laid to rest on 16th March 1723, at one of his greatest creations, St Paul's Cathedral, London.
Wren believed that "Architecture aims at Eternity". He quoted a prophecy that has come true which is "A time will come when men will stretch out their eyes. They should see planets like our Earth.".2
With today’s technology, we can see these far distant planets.
Charles II (1630-1685)Charles II was born on May 29, 1630, in St. James's Palace, London, England. After the execution of his father, Charles lived in exile until he was crowned King of England, Ireland and Scotland in 1661. His reign marking the Restoration period, Charles was known for his cavorting lifestyle and feuds with Parliament.
During the 11-year period of Interregnum, Charles was forbidden from being crowned king. Supporters in Scotland offered him the throne if he supported home rule. Inexperienced and untested in battle, Charles led a force into England but was quickly defeated at the Battle of Worcester, in 1651. Charles fled to the continent and spent nearly a decade in exile, forced to move from one country to another due to Cromwell’s reach.3
Charles II returned from exile after the death of Oliver Cromwell and was restored to the throne of England in 1660, it was a different country that he fled during the civil war after his defeat at Worcester in 1651.
He had to give way on several areas of responsibility and become a servant to democracy. He however did have the heads of most who signed the death warrant on his father, digging up the body of Oliver Cromwell, decapitating it and hanging it on traitor’s gate.
When he returned however in that same year he not only raised the head of Cromwell but also raised the standing army, and within that, a formal medical organisation within the army.
The standing army has been in existence ever since. By appointing royalists like Wiseman and Knight as Surgeon Generals, he helped to finally give the profession the status it deserved. It was he who ordered the building of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea and asked Sir Christopher Wren to design it.
King Charles also resurrected the practice of Kingly healing, it is said the King touched the victim and often gave the victim a gold coin to wear around the neck - usually decorated with an Angel, showing the Archangel Michael killing the dragon and the person promptly recovered.
He touched as many as 90,000 people during his twenty-year reign. A prayer was said at the ceremony to invoke Gods mercy.
This was a great time for science as the great Sir Isaac Newton was revealing so much that the establishment did not understand.
It is also true of Newton, that he was a Christian and spent more time on the study of Daniel and Revelation than he did on science.
His end of the world calculation was 2060 not too far away.
Charles converted to Catholicism just before his death in London on February 6, 1685."O most merciful God, which according to the multitude of thy mercies, doest so put away the sins of those which truly repent, that thou remembrest them no more: open thy eye of mercy upon this thy servant, who most earnestly desireth pardon and forgiveness: Renew in him, most loving father, whatsoever hath been decayed by the fraud and malice of the devil, or by his own carnal will, and frailness: preserve and continue this sick member in the unity of thy Church, consider his contrition, accept his tears, assuage his pain, as shall be seen to thee most expedient for him."4
Charles II was the author of the saying: "There are three things in life that are certain, death, taxes and that it’s raining in Tavistock".
Anton Mesmer (1734-1815)In 1766 Austrian physician Antonio Mesmer evolved the technique of "Mesmerism", he created a sensation in Paris in 1778, but was denounced as a charlatan in 1785. This was the first description of hypnotism as a form of anaesthesia. He claimed that he and others possessed "magnetism animal".
This is usually translated as animal magnetism, although animal is related to the Latin animus, meaning breath or life force. (Today, the term "animal magnetism" means sex appeal.)
Mesmer claimed, Mesmerism could affect the flow of the universal fluid pervading all things and this, in turn, could heal the sick and cure the blind. 5
Mesmer's theory was discredited, but his practices lived on.
A major transition occurred when one of Mesmer's followers, the Marquis de Puysegur, magnetised Victor Race, a young shepherd on his estate. Instead of undergoing a magnetic crisis, Victor fell into a somnambulistic (sleep like) state in which he was responsive to instructions, and from which he awoke with an amnesia for what he had done.
Later in the 19th century, John Elliotson and James Esdaile, among others, reported the successful use of mesmeric somnambulism as an anaesthetic for surgery (although ether and Hypnosis Party chloroform soon proved to be more reliably effective). It was not a new idea to hypnotise people to take away pain or anxiety, the term comes from the Greek God Hypnos the god of sleep (who was incidentally the father of Morpheus the god of dreams.) We get the drug name Morphine from his name.
James Braid, another British physician, speculated that somnambulism was caused by the paralysis of nerve centres induced by fixation of the eyes on an object.
In order to eliminate the taint of mesmerism, Braid renamed the state "neuro-hypnotism" (nervous sleep); a term later shortened to hypnosis.
Later, he concluded that hypnosis was due to the subject's concentration on a single thought (monoideism) rather than physiological fatigue.
Mesmer was driven into exile and continued to practice in Frauenfeld, Switzerland for a number of years. He died in 1815 in Merseburg, Germany.
Jean Andre Venel (1740-1791)Jean-Andre Venal was better known as the Father of orthopaedics, although many strongly disagree; believing that his work was unscientific and that his only contribution was the use of the word Orthopaedics.6
Nicholas Andry coined the word "orthopaedics", derived from Greek words for "correct" or "straight" , in 1741, when at the age of 81 he published "Orthopaedia" or the Art of Correcting and Preventing Deformities in Children.
In the U.S. the spelling orthopaedics is standard, although the majority of university and residency programs, and even the AAOS, still use Andre's spelling.
Elsewhere, usage is not uniform; in Canada, both spellings are common; orthopaedics usually prevails in the rest of the Commonwealth, especially in Britain.7
James Moore (1763–1834)James Moore second son of Dr John Moore (1729–1802) was born at Glasgow in 1763 and studied medicine in Edinburgh and London.
He came from a distinguished family. James Carrick Moore’s father was the physician and writer, John Moore his brother was General Sir John Moore, the hero of the Battle of Corunna.
James became an army medical officer and set up a surgical practice in London.
He was a supporter of Edward Jenner, the pioneer of smallpox vaccination, and defended the practice of vaccination in several publications including, "The History of the Smallpox" (1815), urging his readers that the procedure Jenner had developed did give permanent immunity to smallpox. Jenner himself obtained a Scottish medical degree from St. Andrews but this was at a time when medical degrees could be bought, and attendance was not required at the place of study. 8
Lt General Sir John Moore his brother was unfortunately, killed during the Napoleonic wars.9
James went on to set up his practise in London. He was concerned at an early stage in his career for the widespread suffering that he saw as a result of surgery.
Moore described the technique of compression to control pain during amputation.
A tourniquet was applied for 30 minutes prior to amputation, the nerves were numbed by the compression. He wrote a book which was called " A Method of Preventing and Diminishing Pain During Surgery" which was in fact the first book written on regional anaesthesia or in that matter anaesthesia in general.
Jan Baptist Van Helmont (1579-1644)The idea of pain relief and eventual anaesthesia via inhalation really started when the word gas was first used by Jan Baptist Van Helmont (1579- 1644).
Jan Baptista van Helmont was born of a noble family in Brussels in January 1580.
He was the youngest of the five children of Christiaen van Helmont, who was a public prosecutor, and Maria van Stassaert.
He obtained his education in Louvain where he explored the many fields of science. However, he found no satisfaction in them and in the end, he focused his works on medicine. He obtained his medical degree in 1599. 10
He became the manorial lord of several estates, he retired to one of them, Mérode, in Vilvoorde—and for the next seven years dedicated himself to chemical research and "to the relief of the poor." In fact, he spent his life in relative solitude and mostly in peace. He had several daughters and three sons (two of whom were lost to plague).
Some scholars have claimed that the word "gas" is derived either from the Greek word "chaos" or from the Flemish word "gaesen" (ghosts).
As these concepts were described by Paracelsus prior to the work of Van Helmont, these scholars generally try to diminish the originality of Van Helmont's work in favour of that of Paracelcus. 11
He delved in to the area of mysticism he studied aspects of magic and mystical philosophy in courses given by Jesuit teachers at their recently founded Louvain school, and then he turned to the study of such mystical spiritual writers as Thomas à Kempis. Dissatisfied with all these studies, he turned to medicine. In his new undertaking he was inspired by religious zeal and by the desire to be of service to society.
Van Helmont found support for his elemental water theory in the account of creation given in Genesis. To account for the diversity of material forms derived from the primal water, Van Helmont postulated a series of directing and generating principles which he called ferments or seminal principles. They were links between the material world and the spiritual 12
Van Helmont described the production of a gas. After burning 62 pounds of charcoal, only 1 pound of ashes remained. He assumed the other 61 pounds had changed into a wild spirit or gas (he called it gas sylvestre) that could not be contained in a vessel.
He obtained the same gas by burning organic matter and alcohol and by fermenting wine and beer.
He said, “For want of a name, I have called that vapour Gas, being not far severed from the chaos of the auntients. In the meantime, it is sufficient for me to know that gas is a far more subtle or fine thing than a vapour, mist, or distilled oylinesse, although, as yet, it may be many times thicker than air.”
He went on to describe it as: " I call this Spirit, unknown hitherto, by the new name of Gas, which can neither be constrained by Vessels, nor reduced into a visible body, unless the feed being first extinguished. But Bodies do contain this Spirit, and sometimes do wholly depart into such a Spirit, not indeed, because it is actually in those very bodies (for truly it could not be detained, yea the whole composed body should I lie away at once) but it is a Spirit grown together, coagulated after the manner of a body, and is stirred up by an attained ferment, as in Wine, the juice of unripe Grapes, bread, hydromel or water and Honey "
His wife’s generous inheritance enabled him to retire early from his medical practice and occupy himself with chemical experiments until his death on 30 December 1644.
Robert Boyle (1627-1691)Robert Boyle was one of the most significant of British scientists. More than anyone else, he invented the modern experimental method.
His profuse published findings on pneumatics, chemistry and many other scientific topics were widely influential in providing empirical support for a mechanical view of nature. He also wrote books on the philosophical aspects of science, and on religion. He was a founding member of the Royal Society and was the most senior of that body in its formative years.
Robert Boyle is familiar to Anaesthetics because of his Gas laws; it was he who also synthesized Ether with a lesser-known scientist by the name of Mayow who defined nitro-aerial spirit (oxygen) (1674).
His law states that "the pressure of a given mass of an ideal gas is inversely proportional to its volume at a constant temperature."
The writings of Robert Boyle advance the thesis that Christianity in seventeenth century England advocated and facilitated scientific development.
As a scientist and theologian, he rejected the popular view that the Bible was a scientific textbook and yet believed in the absolute harmony between scientific statements in the Bible and experimental science.
Conflicts between the two were explained as either a mistake in science or an incorrect interpretation of Scripture.13
"Sound consists of an undulating motion of the air and when with excellent Microscopes I discern in otherwise invisible Objects the Inimitable Subtlety of Nature's Curious Workmanship; And when, in a word, by the help of Anatomical Knives, and the light of Chymicall Furnaces, I study the Book of Nature, and consult the Glosses of Aristotle, Epicurus, Paracelsus, Harvey, Helmont, and other learn'd Expositors of that instructive Volumne; I find myself often times reduced to exclaim with the Psalmist, how manifold are thy works, O Lord? In wisdom hast thou made them all."
Benjamin Pugh (1715–1798)Benjamin Pugh, one of ten children, was born in Bishop's Castle, Shropshire in 1715. His uncle was a local surgeon and may have supervised Pugh's early training. He became an apothecary and surgeon.
Endotracheal intubation in children preceded anaesthesia by about 60 years and came because of attempts at neonatal resuscitation. It is believed the first airway was Benjamin Pugh’s "air-pipe", used on new born babies and it was not uncommon for the new born to be administered air by means of the fireside bellows used to enhance the fire.
In 1754 it is recorded by Pugh then an obstetrician of Chelmsford, Essex that he administered oxygen and described the first endotracheal tube. Known at the time as Pugh's pipe it was nothing more than a pipe that bellows could be attached too to inflate the lungs. 14
He also developed one of the first delivery forceps used, and this is described in his treatise of midwifery.
It was made of a wire spring, 10 inches long, covered with thin soft leather, and was to be introduced into the infant's mouth as far as the larynx. 15
Some believe it not to be a true intubation as they understand he did not insert it past the Larynx. He also speaks of mouth to mouth resuscitation as in his Treatise on Midwifery he states:
Benjamin Pugh became more known for his work on inoculating patients for smallpox. He also taught mouth to mouth resuscitation :"If the child does not breathe immediately upon Delivery, which sometimes it will not, especially when it has taken Air in the womb; wipe its Mouth, and press your Mouth to the Child's, at the same time pinching the Nose with your Thumb and Finger, to prevent the Air escaping; inflate the lungs; rubbing it before the Fire; by which Method I have saved many".
Benjamin Pugh did not publish his major work until 20 years had passed.
Joseph Priestly (1733–1804)Joseph Priestly was born at Fieldhead near Birstall, West Yorkshire. He was the oldest of the six children born to Mary Swift and Jonas Priestly.
As a baby, Priestly was sent to live with his grandfather; his mother died five years later, so he returned home. In 1741, Priestly moved in with his rich aunt and uncle.
Because Priestly was gifted, his aunt sought the best education for the boy, with the intention of steering him towards a life in the ministry.
His intention was to become a minister of the church after being brought up in the Calvinistic traditions and teachings, however he nearly died after seemingly contracting Tuberculosis and after that experience he abandoned that aim. Priestly was taught Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.
After he recovered from the Tuberculosis, Priestly was left with a stutter which deterred him from becoming a full-time minister.
His theology and politics shifted and theologically he became a Rational Dissenter, these people emphasized the rational analysis of the natural world and the Bible.
He went on further to study chemistry and science, adapting easily with his brilliant mind, discovering new ideas often.
Priestley’s interest in science intensified in 1765, when he met the American scientist and statesman Benjamin Franklin, who encouraged him to publish "The History and Present State of Electricity, with Original Experiments (1767)". In this work, Priestley used history to show that scientific progress depended more on the accumulation of “new facts” that anyone could discover than on the theoretical insights of a few men of genius. Priestley’s preference for “facts” over “hypotheses” in science was consistent with his dissenting conviction that prejudice and dogma of any sort presented obstacles to individual inquiry and private judgement. 16
In August 1774 he isolated an "air" that appeared to be completely new, but he did not have an opportunity to pursue the matter because he was about to tour Europe.
While in Paris, however, Priestly managed to replicate the experiment for others, including French chemist Antoine Lavoisier. After returning to Britain in January 1775, he continued his experiments and discovered "vitriolic acid air" (sulphur dioxide, SO2). 17
In March he wrote to several people regarding the new "air" that he had discovered in August. One of these letters was read aloud to the Royal Society, and a paper outlining the discovery, titled "An Account of further Discoveries in Air", was published in the Society's journal "Philosophical Transactions". Priestly named the new substance "dephlogisticated air". He first tested it on mice, who surprised him by surviving quite a while entrapped with the air, and then on himself, writing that it was: "Five or six times better than common air for the purpose of respiration, inflammation, and, I believe, every other use of common atmospheric air".He had discovered oxygen (O2).18
He stated, “In completing one discovery, we never fail to get an imperfect knowledge of others" and, “The feeling of it to my lungs was not sensibly different from that of common air; but I fancied that my breast felt peculiarly light and easy for some time afterwards. Who can tell but that, in time, this pure air may become a fashionable article in luxury. Hitherto only two mice and myself have had the privilege of breathing it.”
Carl Scheele of Sweden is also said to have discovered it at the same time. Priestly also described the isolation and identification of other gases such as ammonia, sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide and nitrogen dioxide.
Priestly was a French revolutionary sympathiser which did not go down well in English society, after having his house attacked and being constantly hounded by the anti-revolutionaries. He immigrated to the United States in 1794 where he was welcomed with open arms. He died some 10 years later.
Joseph Black 1728-1799Joseph Black was born in Bordeaux, France in 1728. His father was a wine merchant from Belfast and his mother was Scottish. At the age of 18 he attended Medical school at Glasgow University. He furthered his medical studies at Edinburgh. This is where his most famous experiments took place.
His experiments helped to pave a way for future scientists. Joseph Black can be described as the first of the scientific chemists, as distinguished from medical chemists.
During 1752-1753 Black occupied himself with researching for a solvent for urinary calculi. He discovered by accident the difference between limestone and quicklime and this was produced by the expulsion of “fixed air” (discovered by Van Helmont) Black discovered in 1762 the principle of latent heat, which was described in a paper to the philosophical club of Glasgow but was not published till it appeared in Blacks “Lectures” edited by Kobison, in 1803.
The practical importance of Blacks discovery was at once recognised by James Watt through whose genius the use of latent heat was transformed into useful mechanical work in the invention of the steam engine.
In 1782 the first real step to the science of anaesthesia was taken when Joseph Black became the first person to isolate carbon dioxide into its pure state and at the time he called it fixed air, as it could combine with a solid, this was a small step in terms of anaesthetic properties but a giant step in the breakthrough for science as it led to modern chemistry and eventually atomic research.
Black during his lifetime suffered from breathing problems, and rheumatic problems in later life. He was known to be a vegetarian in later life and also suffered from Vit D deficiency.
He improved when he moved out of the city into the country. He died, in Edinburgh, on 6 December 1799, and is buried in Greyfriars churchyard.19
Sir Humphrey Davy (1778-1829)Humphrey Davy was born on December 17, 1778 in Penzance, Cornwall. He was educated at Truro Grammar School. His father died in 1794, and Davy, in an effort to help support his family, became an apprentice to a surgeon-apothecary, J. Bingham Borlase in order to try to support his family.
In 1798, at the age of 19 he went to Bristol to study chemistry and was taken on by Thomas Beddoes at his Medical Pneumatic Institution. The Institution was founded at Clifton to enquire into the therapeutic properties of gases.
In 1798, Humphrey Davy started to carry out experiments with nitrous oxide; he called it: “Laughing Gas”.
This title was unscientific and, in all probability, slowed down research into its analgesic properties. He made a famous quote that set the tone for the future medical scientists that states “Nitrous oxide appears capable of destroying physical pain. It could be used with the advantage during surgical procedures in which no great effusion of blood takes place”.
In the same letter he said:"It occurred to me, that supposing nitrous oxide to be a stimulant of the common class, it would follow that the debility produced in consequence of excessive stimulation by a known agent, ought to be increased after excitement from nitrous oxide. To ascertain whether this was the case, I made, on 23 December, at four p.m. the following experiment. I drank a bottle of wine in large draughts in less than eight minutes. Whilst I was drinking, I perceived a sense of fullness in the head, and throbbing of the arteries, not analogous to that produced in the first stage of nitrous oxide excitement. After I had finished the bottle, this fullness increased, the surrounding objects became dazzling, the power of distinct articulation was lost, and I was unable to walk steadily. At this moment the sensations were rather pleasurable than otherwise, the sense of fullness in the head soon however increased so as to become painful, and in less than an hour I sunk into a state of insensibility. In this situation I must have remained for two hours or two hours and a half. I was awakened by a head- ache and painful nausea. The nausea continued even after the contents of the stomach had been ejected.
The pain in the head every minute increased; I was neither feverish nor thirsty; my bodily and mental debility were excessive, and the pulse feeble and quick. In this state I breathed for near a minute and half five quarts of gas, which was brought to me by the operator for nitrous oxide; but as it produced no sensations whatever, and apparently rather increased my debility, I am almost convinced that it was from some accident, either common air, or very impure nitrous oxide ”20
In 1799 he published the details of his research in his book "Researches, Chemical and Philosophical" which led to him being appointed a lecturer at the Royal Institution.
Much of Davy's subsequent research involved making new compounds of chlorine with nitrogen, phosphorus, and oxygen.
In 1812 he was knighted, gave a farewell lecture to the Royal Institution, and married a wealthy widow.21
He died May 29th, 1829 at the age of 51 following a prolonged illness considered to be brought on by the inhalation of many gases over his lifetime.
Sir Humphrey Davy's contribution to science is incalculable. He discovered many principles of chemistry which still hold true today.22
It is strange that it took nearly 50 years for people such as Horace Wells to catch on to his words.
Miners will of course remember him for his safety lamp.
“I have learned more from my mistakes than from my successes."23
Davey also said , “Experimental science hardly ever affords us more than approximations to the truth; and whenever many agents are concerned we are in great danger of being mistaken”.
Michael Faraday 1791-1867Michael Faraday was born in Newington Butts, now part of the London Borough of Southwark; where my ancestors come from. It was then a part of Surrey, one mile south of London Bridge.
His family was not well off. James Faraday moved his wife and two children to London during the winter of 1790-1 from Westmorland, where he had been an apprentice to the village blacksmith.
Michael was born the autumn of that year. The young Michael Faraday, the third of four children, having only the most basic of school educations, had to largely educate himself.
At fourteen he became apprenticed to a local bookbinder and bookseller and during his seven-year apprenticeship, he read many books, including Isaac Watts' the Improvement of the Mind, and he enthusiastically implemented the principles and suggestions that it contained he absorbed all he could from the books he laid his hands on. Wanting to know more about the sciences, Faraday attended local lectures that were hosted by members of the Royal Institution of London.
He developed an interest in science, especially in electricity. In particular, he was inspired by the book Conversations on Chemistry by Jane Marcet.24
In 1812, Faraday attended four lectures given by Humphrey Davy at the Royal Institution.
More famous for his work on electro magnetism and capacitance, (a unit of capacitance is named after him, i.e. "Farad"). Faraday was eventually appointed as Davey's assistant at the Royal Institution. He is also credited with the invention of the first electric dynamo, that in itself led to the electricity generation that we take for granted today.
It was here he also got involved in the research into nitrous oxide and had done comparative studies along with sulphuric Ether. He did write to the science and arts journal and stated when the vapour of ether is mixed with common air, and is then inhaled, it produces effects very similar to those occasioned by nitrous oxide.
Faraday's contribution to the introduction of anaesthesia was his published announcement in 1818 that the inhalation of the vapour of Ether produced the same effects on mentation and consciousness as the breathing of nitrous oxide.
He most likely became familiar with the central nervous system effects of nitrous oxide through his association with Davy, an avid user of the gas.
Sulfuric Ether was a common, convenient, cheap, and easily available substance, in contrast to nitrous oxide, which required expensive, cumbersome, and probably not widely available apparatus for its production and administration.
The capability for inhaling intoxicating vapours eventually became commonly available with the use of Ether instead of the gas. The first surgical anaesthetics were a consequence of the resulting student "Ether frolics ."
In 1818 an announcement on breathing Ether vapour was published anonymously; however, notations in Faraday's handwriting in some of his personal books clearly establish Michael Faraday as the author of this brief communication. 25
It was in essence a missed opportunity by Faraday to pursue this comparison study further.
“The five essential entrepreneurial skills for success are concentration, discrimination, organization, innovation and communication.”26
Faraday also said, “Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature.”
Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier 1743-1794Lavoisier was the first child and only son of a wealthy bourgeois family living in Paris.
As a youth, he showed an unusual studiousness and concern for the public good.
He was introduced to humanities and sciences at the prestigious Collège Mazarin, where he studied law.
Since the Paris law faculty made few demands on its students, Lavoisier could spend much of his three years as a law student attending public and private lectures on chemistry and physics, working under the tutelage of leading naturalists.
Upon completing his legal studies, Lavoisier, like his father and his maternal grandfather before him, was admitted to the elite Order of Barristers, whose members presented cases before the High Court (Parliament) of Paris; however rather than practice law, Lavoisier began pursuing scientific research that in 1768 gained him admission into France’s foremost natural philosophy society, the Academy of Sciences in Paris.27
Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier determined the true nature of Oxygen and in 1785, had worked out the proportions of the gases of air which were present in the atmosphere. The revolution changed the face of France, some for good and in the case of this scientist, bad. Soon after the revolution began, Jean-Paul Marat and other radical journalists began to slander Lavoisier for being a member of the Farmer's General. 28
In November 1793, after a one-sided trial by jury. Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, along with his father-in-law and others, were found guilty of conspiracy against the people of France. In this trial that lasted less than a day, all of them were convicted and sentenced to execution. When Lavoisier requested time to complete some scientific work, the presiding judge was said to have answered:"The Republic has no need of scientists." He was guillotined on May 8, 1794.
It has been said that at the time of his execution, he blinked at the time of the guillotine striking his neck and carried on blinking for 15 seconds as a prearranged experiment to determine how long you were aware of your surroundings.
His body was thrown into a common grave.
It can be said with great certainty, that the execution of this great chemist was a loss not only to French science, but to World science.
At this period in history, scientists were using Ether for many things but not as an anaesthetic agent.
He stated:“It is almost impossible to predict one or two days in advance, within a rather broad range of probability, what the weather is going to be; it is even thought that it will not be impossible to publish daily forecasts, which would be very useful to society." And “This theory [the oxygen theory] is not as I have heard it described, that of the French chemists, it is mine (elle est la mienne); it is a property which I claim from my contemporaries and from posterity.”
Richard Pearson 1743-1794, Thomas Beddoes 1760-1808In 1793 Thomas Beddoes moved to Oxford, where he taught Chemistry. He like Joseph Priestly sympathised with the revolutionaries in France, which made him an enemy of several people in the national institutions, it also gave him enemies within the British Government. He set up practise in Bristol. He along with Richard Pearson used Ether in the treatment of Phthisis, catarrhal fever, bladder calculus, and scurvy.
These experiments were performed at the Beddoes Pneumatic Institute. I believe this institute still exists today.
Richard Pearson recommended a teapot inhaler for ether in his Medical Facts and Observations (Vol 7) published in 1797.
His comments on the side effects of ether were:"Sickness and giddiness that would soon pass. The manner of using Ether Vapour in phthisis whooping-cough, and some other pulmonary disorders, is extremely simple. One or two tea spoonfuls being put into a small tea cup, the latter is held to the mouth either by the patient or an assistant, and the vapour (which the warmth of the hand causes to ascend in sufficient quantity) is drawn in with the breath. This is continued till all the Ether is evaporated and is repeated 3 or 4 times in the day, according to the urgency of the case."29 He went on to say:"The inhalation of ether vapour is not so beneficial in this epidemic as it is in simple catarrh where however the cough is and the dyspnoea urgent without being accompanied with pneumonic inflammation it may be resorted to with advantage and here he seems to have dropped the ether probably from being disappointed with its effects in the epidemic."
The collection of now famous names at the institute is legendary, with the then unknown Humphrey Davy, James Watt and advice from Joseph Black and John Hunter, Beddoes had a wealth of talent at his disposal.
Dr. Thomas Beddoes's work, Considerations on the Medicinal Use and on the Production of Factitious Airs, was published. In that book Beddoes, by a series of experiments, pointed out that in oxygen we have the suitable antidote to Asphyxia.
Beddoes said : “I think it perfectly just, that he who, from the love of experiment, quits an approved for an uncertain practice, should suffer the full penalty of Egyptian law against medical innovation; as I would consign to the pillory, the wretch, who out of regard to his character, that is, to his fees, should follow the routine, when, from constant experience he is sure that his patient will die under it, provided any, not inhuman, deviation would give his patient a chance.”
James Watt (1736-1819)James Watt was born in Greenock near Inverclyde, Renfrewshire he built up his knowledge of how things worked by working in his father’s shop.
In 1757 he started his own business making instruments and built up a reputation as a high-quality engineer.30
He is in the main famous for discovering the usefulness of steam.
James Watt was involved with Davy and Thomas Beddoes in constructing a respiratory machine for the Pneumatic institute.
James Watt had a son called Gregory who was a good friend of the young Humphrey Davy, it is said that it was Gregory that encouraged Davy in experimenting with Nitrous Oxide, he also co-operated with Joseph Black in work on latent heat. As the 19th century got going the effects of both nitrous oxide and ether were becoming widely known, they were however more popular on the social side of life, Ether frolics, as they became known were the trendy pastime of the rich and famous in the United States and Britain.
James Watt became a very wealthy man and around 1800 he retired and dedicated himself entirely to his research work. Watt died on 19 August 1819. A unit of measurement of electrical and mechanical power - the watt - is named in his honour.
Watt was quite a religious man he wrote, “My responsibility is to follow the Scriptures which call upon us to occupy the land until Jesus returns” 30
James Watt was an inventor and scientist and was involved in many fields of study even fire engines:“ About 6 or 8 years ago My Ingenious friend Mr John Robinson having conceived that a fire engine might be made without a Lever by Inverting the Cylinder & placing it above the mouth of the pit proposed to me to make a model of it which was set about by having never Completed; I [being] having at that time Ignorant little knowledge of the machine however I always thought the Machine Might be applied to other as valuable purposes as drawing Water.”
William Hunter 1718- 1783William Hunter was born at Long Calderwood Farm near Glasgow in 1718. He was educated at Glasgow University in 1731 and later studied medicine at Edinburgh.
In 1741, he moved to London. William Hunter quickly became well known as a physician, especially as an obstetrician, and built up a distinguished clientele, which included members of the Royal Family.
In London, he pioneered the teaching of anatomy, and was a leader in the development of midwifery, and one of the most respected and fashionable accoutres with a clientele which included the highest ranks of society.
He was appointed Physician in Extraordinary to Queen Charlotte in 1762 and assisted in the births of two future British kings, George IV and William IV.
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1767, and was appointed as the first Professor of Anatomy at the Royal Academy of Arts founded by George III in 1768. In 1768 he opened a medical school at his house in Great Windmill Street.
The same year Hunter also became a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.
In 1774, he published his extraordinary and still respected "The Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus".
Foreign Associateship of the Royal Society of Medicine Paris and the Academy of Sciences Paris followed in 1780 and 1782.
He also established himself as a teacher of surgery and anatomy, and assembled a collection of anatomical and pathological specimens, which were used to support his teaching work.
As his reputation - and wealth - grew, Hunter also collected works of art as well as coins, books, manuscripts and curiosities.
It was said at a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1782 that William Hunter’s coin cabinet was second only to that of the King of France.
It was indeed the best in Britain, surpassing even the royal collection of King George III.
The 18th century saw the growth of many cabinets assembled by professional men of the Church, Law and Medicine but few matched the great aristocratic collections. Thus, Hunter’s cabinet was exceptional, but he was an exceptional man.32
After his death in 1783 William Hunter bequeathed his entire collection to Glasgow University, where it formed the basis of the Hunterian Museum which opened in 1807.
“Some physiologists will have it that the stomach is a mill; others that it is a fermenting vat; others that it is a stew pan; but in my view of the matter, it is neither a mill, a fermenting vat, nor a stew pan but a stomach, gentleman, a stomach.
Anatomists have ever been engaged in contention. And indeed, if a man has not such a degree of enthusiasm, and love of the art, as will make him impatient of unreasonable opposition and of encroachments upon his discoveries and his reputation, he will hardly become considerable in Anatomy or in any branch of natural knowledge.”33
John Hunter 1728-1793John Hunter came to London in 1748 at the age of 20 and worked as an assistant in the anatomy school of his elder brother William. Under William’s direction, John learnt human anatomy and showed great aptitude in the dissection and preparation of specimens.
William also arranged for him to study under the eminent surgeons William Cheselden (1688-1752) and Percival Pott (1714-1788). While most of his contemporaries taught only human anatomy, Hunter's lectures stressed the relationship between structure and function in all kinds of living creatures.
He believed that surgeons should understand how the body adapted to and compensated for damage due to injury, disease or environmental changes. He encouraged students such as Edward Jenner and Astley Cooper to carry out experimental research and to apply the knowledge gained to the treatment of patients. 34
In 1790, he became Surgeon General to the Land Forces and first General of Hospitals.
He was a brilliant surgeon and has been labelled the man who made surgery into a science.
Hunter developed amongst numerous things a forerunner of the ventilator we use today although crude using hand bellows.
Unfortunately, Hunter died after only three years in office whilst working at St Georges Hospital. He was however accorded the honour of having a statue erected in Leicester Square.
Field hospitals appeared until 1793, in Ireland during the Orange wars against James II. Although these were better than nothing at all, they were far behind the armies of Europe.34
“Never ask me what I have said or what I have written; but if you will ask what my present opinions are, I will tell you.” John Hunter
1 http://scienceblogs.com/neurophilosophy/2008/11/christopher_wren_the _architecture_of_the_brain.php
4 Book of Common Prayer, Visitation of the Sick
9 James Moore (1762-1860): An 18th-Century Advocate of Mitigation of Pain during Surgery Norman Bergman MD 1994
14 Thomas P Basket, Halifax Nova Scotia
15 M. H. ARMSTRONG DAVISON Department of Anaesthetics Newcastle
17 Schofield, Robert E., ed. A Scientific Autobiography of Joseph Priestley (1733–1804): Selected Scientific Correspondence. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1966.
21 http://www.chemistry.mtu.edu/~pcharles/SCIHISTORY/Humphry_Davy.ht ml
23 Sir Humphrey Davy
26 Michael Faraday
28 http://cti.itc.virginia.edu/~meg3c/classes/tcc313/200Rprojs/lavoisier2/ho me.htl
29 Anaesthetics. By GEORGE M. FOY, F.R.C.S.I. ; Surgeon to the Whitworth Hospital, Drumcondra. Dublin Journal of Medical Science (1872-1920
33 William Hunter
34 Royal College of Surgeons