Tag Archives: Physiology

The finality in their voices: death, disease, and palliation in opera

Lea C. Dacy Eelco F. M. Wijdicks Rochester, Minnesota, United States   Figure 1: Violetta’s deathbed in La Traviata, from 2009 Glimmerglass Opera production directed by Sir Jonathan Miller. Photo by Richard Termine, used with his permission. I know she had tuberculosis! She was coughing her brains out . . . but still she kept […]

Roget and his Thesaurus

JMS Pearce East Yorks, UK   Fig 1. Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869). William. Drummond, after Eden Upton Eddis. c.1830s. Credit National Portrait Gallery  There was much more to Peter Mark Roget (1779–1869)(Fig 1) than his indispensable Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (Fig 2).1 But little is remembered of his illustrious career in medicine and […]

Origins of the knee jerk

JMS Pearce  East Yorks, England   Wilhelm Heinrich Erb. By F. Langbein & Cie. Heidelberg. 1897. Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg. Via Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 4.0 Reflex hammers are the icon or hallmark of every neurologist. How important are the reflexes they elicit? What is their mechanism? The advent of modern technology has made it easy to forget […]

Using Latin to settle medical pronunciation debates

Raymond Noonan Brooklyn, New York, United States   Author’s note: Original Latin words are written in italics, with macrons (ā) indicating long vowels. Equivalent Latin-derived medical terms are given without italics. Acute accents (á) are sometimes used to indicate stress accent in both English and Latin. Informal phonetic spelling that should be familiar to most […]

John S. Bristowe: Victorian physician and polymath

Arpan K. Banerjee  Solihull, UK   Photograph of John Syer Bristowe (1827–1895), English physician. G. Jerrard. 1895. Accessed via Wikimedia. John Syer Bristowe was a Victorian physician and polymath who served his alma mater, St. Thomas’ Hospital, with great distinction. He was born into a medical family on 19 June 1827 in Camberwell in Southeast […]

Ernest Henry Starling and the birth of English Physiology

JMS Pearce  Hull, England   Fig 1. Ernest Starling. Univ. College. Graduate Guy Hospital. 1890. London. (From Images from the History of Medicine (NLM) ). Accessed via Wikimedia Science has only one language, quantity, and only one argument, the experiment -EH Starling   Ernest Henry Starling (1866-1927) (Fig 1) was an outstanding figure in the […]

A lesson in physiology

Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   Waterfront Promenade, Thessaloniki, Greece. Photograph by the author. The contours are quite familiar, both to the eye and the touch. My hand strokes its counterpart, its twin sibling: they have been working together ever since I first saw the light of the day in this world. They have washed, clasped, […]

Bloody women

M.K.K. Hague-Yearl Montréal, Québec, Canada   Calendar depicting scenes relating to health. Both bloodletting scenes show a woman being bled. Bibliotheca Osleriana 7424A, Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University. Source Sitting with little fanfare inside a twentieth-century red hardcover binding is a single leaf whose bibliographic record contains brackets of uncertainty: “[Calendar […]

Albrecht von Haller, physiologist and polymath

Medicine was only one of the many interests of Albrecht von Haller. He was physician, anatomist, botanist, and physiologist, wrote poetry, studied religion and philosophy, and has been called the father of physiology and founder of hemodynamics.1,2 Born in 1708 in Bern, Switzerland, into a family of priests and magistrates, he was a weak and […]

W.H.R. Rivers and the humane treatment of shell shock

Soleil Shah London, UK   A shell-shocked soldier receives electro-shock treatment from a nurse during the First World War. Image Source: Otis Historical Archives National Museum of Health and Medicine (ref Reeve 041476) via Flickr “Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.” – Hippocrates War neurosis, or “shell shock” […]