Book - A History of Science 9

From Embryology
Revision as of 11:38, 16 November 2015 by Z8600021 (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Embryology - 23 Aug 2019    Facebook link Pinterest link Twitter link  Expand to Translate  
Google Translate - select your language from the list shown below (this will open a new external page)

العربية | català | 中文 | 中國傳統的 | français | Deutsche | עִברִית | हिंदी | bahasa Indonesia | italiano | 日本語 | 한국어 | မြန်မာ | Pilipino | Polskie | português | ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਦੇ | Română | русский | Español | Swahili | Svensk | ไทย | Türkçe | اردو | ייִדיש | Tiếng Việt    These external translations are automated and may not be accurate. (More? About Translations)

Williams HS. A History of Science. (1904) Harper and Bros. New York.

A History of Science: Arabian Medicine | Mediaeval Science in the West | The Great Anatomists | The coming of Harvey | Leeuwenhoek Discovers Bacteria | Medicine in the 16th and 17th Century | Philosopher-Scientists and new Institutions | 18th Century Anatomy and Physiology Part 1 | 18th Century Anatomy and Physiology Part 2 | 18th Century Anatomy and Physiology Part 3 | 19th Century Anatomy and Physiology Part 1 | 19th Century Anatomy and Physiology Part 2 | 19th Century Anatomy and Physiology Part 3 | Theories Of Evolution Part 1 | Theories Of Evolution Part 2 | 18th Century Medicine | 19th Century Medicine Part 1 | 19th Century Medicine Part 2 | Brain and Mind | Brain Structure | Embryology History
Historic Disclaimer - information about historic embryology pages 
Mark Hill.jpg
Pages where the terms "Historic Textbook" and "Historic Embryology" appear on this site, and sections within pages where this disclaimer appears, indicate that the content and scientific understanding are specific to the time of publication. This means that while some scientific descriptions are still accurate, the terminology and interpretation of the developmental mechanisms reflect the understanding at the time of original publication and those of the preceding periods, these terms and interpretations may not reflect our current scientific understanding.     (More? Embryology History | Historic Embryology Papers)

Modern Development of the Chemical and Biological Sciences

The Chemical Theory of Digestion

Lazzaro Spallanzani (1729-1799)

Among the most interesting researches of Spallanzani were his experiments to prove that digestion, as carried on in the stomach, is a chemical process. In this he demonstrated, as Rene Reaumur had attempted to demonstrate, that digestion could be carried on outside the walls of the stomach as an ordinary chemical reaction, using the gastric juice as the reagent for performing the experiment. The question as to whether the stomach acted as a grinding or triturating organ, rather than as a receptacle for chemical action, had been settled by Reaumur and was no longer a question of general dispute. Reaumur had demonstrated conclusively that digestion would take place in the stomach in the same manner and the same time if the substance to be digested was protected from the peristalic movements of the stomach and subjected to the action of the gastric juice only. He did this by introducing the substances to be digested into the stomach in tubes, and thus protected so that while the juices of the stomach could act upon them freely they would not be affected by any movements of the organ.


Following up these experiments, he attempted to show that digestion could take place outside the body as well as in it, as it certainly should if it were a purely chemical process. He collected quantities of gastric juice, and placing it in suitable vessels containing crushed grain or flesh, kept the mixture at about the temperature of the body for several hours. After repeated experiments of this kind, apparently conducted with great care, Reaumur reached the conclusion that "the gastric juice has no more effect out of the living body in dissolving or digesting the food than water, mucilage, milk, or any other bland fluid."[3] Just why all of these experiments failed to demonstrate a fact so simple does not appear; but to Spallanzani, at least, they were by no means conclusive, and he proceeded to elaborate upon the experiments of Reaumur. He made his experiments in scaled tubes exposed to a certain degree of heat, and showed conclusively that the chemical process does go on, even when the food and gastric juice are removed from their natural environment in the stomach. In this he was opposed by many physiologists, among them John Hunter, but the truth of his demonstrations could not be shaken, and in later years we find Hunter himself completing Spallanzani's experiments by his studies of the post-mortem action of the gastric juice upon the stomach walls.


That Spallanzani's and Hunter's theories of the action of the gastric juice were not at once universally accepted is shown by an essay written by a learned physician in 1834. In speaking of some of Spallanzani's demonstrations, he writes: "In some of the experiments, in order to give the flesh or grains steeped in the gastric juice the same temperature with the body, the phials were introduced under the armpits. But this is not a fair mode of ascertaining the effects of the gastric juice out of the body; for the influence which life may be supposed to have on the solution of the food would be secured in this case. The affinities connected with life would extend to substances in contact with any part of the system: substances placed under the armpits are not placed at least in the same circumstances with those unconnected with a living animal." But just how this writer reaches the conclusion that "the experiments of Reaumur and Spallanzani give no evidence that the gastric juice has any peculiar influence more than water or any other bland fluid in digesting the food"[4] is difficult to understand.

John Hunter (1728-1793)

The concluding touches were given to the new theory of digestion by John Hunter, who, as we have seen, at first opposed Spallanzani, but who finally became an ardent champion of the chemical theory. Hunter now carried Spallanzani's experiments further and proved the action of the digestive fluids after death. For many years anatomists had been puzzled by pathological lesion of the stomach, found post mortem, when no symptoms of any disorder of the stomach had been evinced during life. Hunter rightly conceived that these lesions were caused by the action of the gastric juice, which, while unable to act upon the living tissue, continued its action chemically after death, thus digesting the walls of the stomach in which it had been formed. And, as usual with his observations, be turned this discovery to practical use in accounting for certain phenomena of digestion. The following account of the stomach being digested after death was written by Hunter at the desire of Sir John Pringle, when he was president of the Royal Society, and the circumstance which led to this is as follows: "I was opening, in his presence, the body of a patient of his own, where the stomach was in part dissolved, which appeared to him very unaccountable, as there had been no previous symptom that could have led him to suspect any disease in the stomach. I took that opportunity of giving him my ideas respecting it, and told him that I had long been making experiments on digestion, and considered this as one of the facts which proved a converting power in the gastric juice. . . . There are a great many powers in nature which the living principle does not enable the animal matter, with which it is combined, to resist--viz., the mechanical and most of the strongest chemical solvents. It renders it, however, capable of resisting the powers of fermentation, digestion, and perhaps several others, which are well known to act on the same matter when deprived of the living principle and entirely to decompose it. "


Hunter concludes his paper with the following paragraph: "These appearances throw considerable light on the principle of digestion, and show that it is neither a mechanical power, nor contractions of the stomach, nor heat, but something secreted in the coats of the stomach, and thrown into its cavity, which there animalizes the food or assimilates it to the nature of the blood. The power of this juice is confined or limited to certain substances, especially of the vegetable and animal kingdoms; and although this menstruum is capable of acting independently of the stomach, yet it is indebted to that viscus for its continuance.[5]

The Function of Respiration

It is a curious commentary on the crude notions of mechanics of previous generations that it should have been necessary to prove by experiment that the thin, almost membranous stomach of a mammal has not the power to pulverize, by mere attrition, the foods that are taken into it. However, the proof was now for the first time forthcoming, and the question of the general character of the function of digestion was forever set at rest. Almost simultaneously with this great advance, corresponding progress was made in an allied field: the mysteries of respiration were at last cleared up, thanks to the new knowledge of chemistry. The solution of the problem followed almost as a matter of course upon the advances of that science in the latter part of the century. Hitherto no one since Mayow, of the previous century, whose flash of insight had been strangely overlooked and forgotten, had even vaguely surmised the true function of the lungs. The great Boerhaave had supposed that respiration is chiefly important as an aid to the circulation of the blood; his great pupil, Haller, had believed to the day of his death in 1777 that the main purpose of the function is to form the voice. No genius could hope to fathom the mystery of the lungs so long as air was supposed to be a simple element, serving a mere mechanical purpose in the economy of the earth.


But the discovery of oxygen gave the clew, and very soon all the chemists were testing the air that came from the lungs--Dr. Priestley, as usual, being in the van. His initial experiments were made in 1777, and from the outset the problem was as good as solved. Other experimenters confirmed his results in all their essentials--notably Scheele and Lavoisier and Spallanzani and Davy. It was clearly established that there is chemical action in the contact of the air with the tissue of the lungs; that some of the oxygen of the air disappears, and that carbonic-acid gas is added to the inspired air. It was shown, too, that the blood, having come in contact with the air, is changed from black to red in color. These essentials were not in dispute from the first. But as to just what chemical changes caused these results was the subject of controversy. Whether, for example, oxygen is actually absorbed into the blood, or whether it merely unites with carbon given off from the blood, was long in dispute.


Each of the main disputants was biased by his own particular views as to the moot points of chemistry. Lavoisier, for example, believed oxygen gas to be composed of a metal oxygen combined with the alleged element heat; Dr. Priestley thought it a compound of positive electricity and phlogiston; and Humphry Davy, when he entered the lists a little later, supposed it to be a compound of oxygen and light. Such mistaken notions naturally complicated matters and delayed a complete understanding of the chemical processes of respiration. It was some time, too, before the idea gained acceptance that the most important chemical changes do not occur in the lungs themselves, but in the ultimate tissues. Indeed, the matter was not clearly settled at the close of the century. Nevertheless, the problem of respiration had been solved in its essentials. Moreover, the vastly important fact had been established that a process essentially identical with respiration is necessary to the existence not only of all creatures supplied with lungs, but to fishes, insects, and even vegetables--in short, to every kind of living organism.

Next

18th Century Anatomy and Physiology Part 3


Historic Disclaimer - information about historic embryology pages 
Mark Hill.jpg
Pages where the terms "Historic Textbook" and "Historic Embryology" appear on this site, and sections within pages where this disclaimer appears, indicate that the content and scientific understanding are specific to the time of publication. This means that while some scientific descriptions are still accurate, the terminology and interpretation of the developmental mechanisms reflect the understanding at the time of original publication and those of the preceding periods, these terms and interpretations may not reflect our current scientific understanding.     (More? Embryology History | Historic Embryology Papers)


Embryology - 23 Aug 2019    Facebook link Pinterest link Twitter link  Expand to Translate  
Google Translate - select your language from the list shown below (this will open a new external page)

العربية | català | 中文 | 中國傳統的 | français | Deutsche | עִברִית | हिंदी | bahasa Indonesia | italiano | 日本語 | 한국어 | မြန်မာ | Pilipino | Polskie | português | ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਦੇ | Română | русский | Español | Swahili | Svensk | ไทย | Türkçe | اردو | ייִדיש | Tiếng Việt    These external translations are automated and may not be accurate. (More? About Translations)

Williams HS. A History of Science. (1904) Harper and Bros. New York.

A History of Science: Arabian Medicine | Mediaeval Science in the West | The Great Anatomists | The coming of Harvey | Leeuwenhoek Discovers Bacteria | Medicine in the 16th and 17th Century | Philosopher-Scientists and new Institutions | 18th Century Anatomy and Physiology Part 1 | 18th Century Anatomy and Physiology Part 2 | 18th Century Anatomy and Physiology Part 3 | 19th Century Anatomy and Physiology Part 1 | 19th Century Anatomy and Physiology Part 2 | 19th Century Anatomy and Physiology Part 3 | Theories Of Evolution Part 1 | Theories Of Evolution Part 2 | 18th Century Medicine | 19th Century Medicine Part 1 | 19th Century Medicine Part 2 | Brain and Mind | Brain Structure | Embryology History
Historic Disclaimer - information about historic embryology pages 
Mark Hill.jpg
Pages where the terms "Historic Textbook" and "Historic Embryology" appear on this site, and sections within pages where this disclaimer appears, indicate that the content and scientific understanding are specific to the time of publication. This means that while some scientific descriptions are still accurate, the terminology and interpretation of the developmental mechanisms reflect the understanding at the time of original publication and those of the preceding periods, these terms and interpretations may not reflect our current scientific understanding.     (More? Embryology History | Historic Embryology Papers)

Glossary Links

Glossary: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | Numbers | Symbols | Term Link

Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2019, August 23) Embryology Book - A History of Science 9. Retrieved from https://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php/Book_-_A_History_of_Science_9

What Links Here?
© Dr Mark Hill 2019, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G