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Tag Archives: 19th century

199. Fighting Tuberculosis and Embarassment

Listening to a patient for tuberculosis

Near the dawn of the 19th century medicine advanced inwards. Doctors began once more to diagnose problems with the heart and lungs by placing their ears against the bodies of patients and listening intently. This practice had been used since the time of the Greeks but recent advances had returned to frequent usage. This new body of science was in its infancy and doctors had great trouble listening to internal problems and keeping abreast of developments in the understanding of the human interior. Then it was improved by chance and embarrassment.

The Doctor René Theophile-Hyacinthe Laënnec was busy at work in the nineteenth century, doing nineteenth century things when he was presented with a chest problems. It was a young and rather plump lady, who was followed by her family. They lined the room as the young lady told of her suffering. For a decent diagnosis, he needed to listen to her lungs.

Under the watchful gaze of the family and the pressure of nineteenth century sensibilities he felt suddenly aware of how uncomfortably close he would have to place his head to her bosom, so he improvised. He grabbed a nearby piece of paper and rolled it up into a tube and placing the paper purposefully on her skin. To his shock when he listened, the sounds were much clearer. The lazy lungs breathing and the nervous heart beating.

That day, in 1816, the stethoscope was invented. Over time they became less papery and more trumpet-like. So it was until 1851 when a binaural stethoscope, one allowing the use of both ears, was introduced. Designs similar to the ones still used today, or so I hear.

Further Reading:

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Articles

 

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193. The Skin of Big Nose George

In August 1878 a Union Pacific train was making its rounds through rural Wyoming, America. The day was warm and the steam train pulled along through the uneventful landscape. Meanwhile George Parrott or Big Nose George as he was also known, was with an outlaw gang, lying in wait by the straight tracks. They were ready to make mischief on a whole new scale. The plan was simple, derail and rob the train.

As a group they loosened a few sections of track and moved them enough to destabilise the train, then they lay in wait. Then some section hands came along, found the damage and repaired it immediately. The train was safe; this was the cause of some disappointment for the gang, and they aborted the robbery.

The section hands immediately reported the tampered track to the authorities and two men set out to investigate the track tampering and lay down the law. These men were Sheriff Robert Widdowfield and Special Railroad Detective, Harry ‘Tip’ Vincent. The gang fled to a temporary camp in the nearby ‘Rattlesnake Canyon’ but the investigators were hot on their tracks and discovered them within days. Upon entering the camp they found recently extinguished embers, they were still hot. The gang was there still laying in wait. Up to twenty shots rang out through the canyon and the two investigators lay dead. Shot by Parrot’s cruel collective.

With two bodies on their hands the group partially buried the bodies and then dispersed. Then the long arm of the law began to extend its grasp. Surveyors near the canyon reported hearing the sounds of gunshots rebounding off the rock faces. Some twenty men were assembled to deal with the case. They rode out and eventually found the canyon encampment but no sign of the gang. What they did find were the bodies of the two men, shot to pieces. Widdowfield’s corpse had 7 bullet holes in the skull alone. The two rapidly decomposing bodies had been loosely covered in dust and gravel the week before. The hunt for the gang was on. A prize of $10,000 was offered for the capture of the group. Very quickly Union Pacific doubled that offer.

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Posted by on November 18, 2011 in Articles

 

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27. Rock, Paper… Elephant?

FACT: In Vietnam they never play ‘Rock-paper-scissors.’ The reason being that they got the game from 19th Century Japan, just like the rest of the world, and they created their own name for it. The Vietnamese call it Elephant-Human-Ant.

Also ever year there is a worldwide Rock-Paper Scissors tournament and the prize money tallies at an impressive $50,000. If you want to know more about advanced Rock-paper-scissors tactics check out this infographic.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2011 in Trivia

 

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