Almost everything we consider common knowledge today was once a total mystery. Around the second century AD, no one in the western world knew that the arteries, veins, and heart were filled with blood. Most thought they were filled with air. Here’s how one man disproved that theory.
It is my understanding that the word “artery” is derived from the Greek word for windpipe, “arteria”; so we are kind of holding on to the misconception.
One of my favourite stories about how digestion functions was learnt during a war (Napoleonic?). Anyone could be a doctor in those days, and lots learnt from sowing up soldiers… One soldier sustained a wound to the tummy, allowing a doctor to feed the soldier directly. But I don’t think the soldier made it 😉
One of the most awful diseases in the world caused a surprising advance in medicine. Though the Black Death killed roughly a third of the people in the nations it touched, it ended half a century of religion-induced medical ignorance.
Did you know: Investigating the cause of death on people is called an “autopsy”, while for anything else? That’s called a “necropsy”.
Some believe that the black plague made the Renaissance happen, partly because many of the survivors were suddenly rich (from inheriting from a lot of dead relatives) and partly from a drive to put the black death as far behind them as possible. It’s not far fetched – a lot current culture can be traced to impact from either during or after the two World Wars. Men having short hair and clean shaven is attributed to WW1 trench warfare, lobster changed from food for the poor to high class because it wasn’t rationed like meat… The predominant language in North America was German until the wars, and largely due to internment camps and the practice around them of confiscating land, business, and money. The butterfly effect…
When you’re dead, you stiffen up. We all know this. But why? What is the process that goes on, inside a dead body, that causes muscle tissue to contract so tightly that the limbs can be impossible to move? We’ll take you into the wonderful world of rigor mortis.
…Rigor mortis is famous for setting in from the head down, but actually all muscles experience it equally. The stiffness is just more noticeable in the smaller muscles around the face and head than in the large muscles of the legs and abdomen. The stiffness generally goes away after about two days.