One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bric-a-brac from "Bouvard and Pecuchet": Sanctorius

Is it true that the surface of our bodies are always letting out a subtle vapour? The proof of it is that the weight of a man is decreasing every minute. If each day what is wanting is added and what is excessive subtracted, the health would be kept in perfect equilibrium. Sanctorius, the discoverer of this law, spent half a century weighing his food every day together with its excretions, and took the weights himself, giving himself no rest, save for the purpose of writing down his computations.

Santorio Santorio (March 29, 1561 Capodistria (today Koper) –February 22, 1636 Venice), also called Santorio Santorii, Sanctorius of Padua, and various combinations of these names, was an Italian physiologist, physician, and professor. From 1611 to 1624 he was a professor at Padua where he performed experiments in temperature, respiration and weight. Sanctorius studied what he termed insensible perspiration and originated the study of metabolism.

For a period of thirty years Sanctorius weighed himself, everything he ate and drank, as well as his urine and feces. He compared the weight of what he had eaten to that of his waste products, the latter being considerably smaller. He produced his theory of insensible perspiration as an attempt to account for this difference. His findings had little scientific value, but he is still celebrated for his empirical methodology. The "weighing chair", which he constructed and employed during this experiment, is also famous.

He is credited with the design of the clinical thermometer, which he introduced in his Sanctorii Sanctorii Commentaria in primam fen primi libri Canonis Avicennae, a commentary on Avicenna's The Canon of Medicine. He invented a device which he called the pulsilogium for measuring the pulse which was the first machine system in medical history. A century later another physician, de la Croix, used the pulsilogium to test cardiac function. Sanctorius also invented an early waterbed. In 1614, he wrote De statica medicina, a medical text that saw five publications through 1737.

[From Wikipedia:]
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