Timeline: Medical Science, technology and communications
This list is intended to provide a range of examples of the way that science, technology and communications have been linked to medicine over time. The list will be updated as I teach different periods of the course to this years cohort.
|The Prehistoric period||Evidence of Trephined skulls shows that prehistoric man had developed surgical tools.
Cave paintings provide us with evidence of the way of life of prehistoric man.
Word of mouth and oral tradition would have played a role in the dissemination of ideas.
|The Ancient World||Papyrus Ebers (c1500BC) and Papyrus Edwin Smith are the earliest written records of medical ideas.
The first use of metals provide doctors with more effective surgical instruments.
Egyptian and Greek trade routes saw the spread of ideas, practices and medicines. Trade routes for spices into Egypt: Overland from Asia Minor; sea route from SE Africa; overland from Nubia and Abyssinia; sea route from Crete.
The Library at Alexandria sees the works of the ancient philosophers and doctors being stored and used for teaching.
Ideas based on Ayurveda (India, c1000BC) are recorded.
Greek philosophers discuss their ideas about the cause of disease and note methods of curing ailments.
Roman roads and trade routes make the spread of ideas more efficient.
Hippocrates c400BC. Writes on many areas.
China: Yellow Emperors Manual of Medicine (c350BC) introduces concept of Ying and Yang.
Chinese acupuncture (drawings of)
Susruta Samhita (Indian book, before 200AD) – provides detailed guidance on how to dissect a body.
Galen – moved from Pergamum (trained at an Asclepious) to Alexandria (learnt of dissection, access to books from previous and other civilisations) to Rome (work on Gladiators) to treating Marcus Aurelius. His ideas spread throughout the Roman world and into Asia.
|Medieval||Guy de Chauliac writes about his ideas.
Wound man images are used by surgeons.
Rhazes (Baghdad, c900AD) publishes Treatise on Smallpox and Measles.
Ibn Sina (aka Avicenna) (Spain, 1037AD) publishes his Canon of Medicine which is widely used throughout the Islamic World and in Western Europe.
Water pipes are installed at Canterbury Cathedral.
Islamic academics translated the works of the Greeks and disseminated these through universities.
Ibn-an-Nafis (Cairo, 1242AD) correctly challenges Galen’s work on the movement of blood – but his ideas are not accepted by others.
Medical texts are translated and / or copied by hand.
|The Renaissance||The invention of the Printing press enables the mass production of medical texts and the rapid spread of ideas.
1531, Paris: Galen’s books are translated, printed and distributed.
1543, Padua. Publication of the Fabric of the Human Body by Vesalius. Dissection enables him to later revise his views and Galen’s errors are noted and corrected by the time of the second edition in 1555.
1559, Padua. Realdo Columbo discovers that blood moves through the arteries to the Lungs.
William Harvey moves from England to Padua to study (1600-1602)
Harvey returns to London and in 1628 publishes ‘On the movement of the heart and blood in Animals’ which shows the way in which the heart works as a pump.
1661, Padua: Marcello Malpighi sees capilliaries using a microscope.
Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings of human anatomy are printed and circulated (c1512)
High quality images by the likes of Vesalius and Harvey can be copied and printed accurately and in large quantities.
|Industrial Revolution||1796 – Edward Jenner vaccinates James Phipps against Smallpox. After testing, his method is announced in 1798.
1861: Louis Pasteur publishes his German theory which proves that diseases in plants and animals were caused by germs. However he did not prove that they caused disease in humans.
Visualise the transmission of Pasteur’s ideas to Germany, leading to…
1878, Germany. Robert Koch discovers the microbes that cause wounds to go septic.
1881, France. Louis Pasteur produce a vaccine against anthrax.
1884, France. Pasteur and his team produce a vaccine against Rabies.
1891: the first anti-toxin is produced by Koch’s laboratory to cure Diphtheria.
1895, Wurzburg, Germany: Wilhelm Rontgen discovers electro magnetic radiation which can pass through the body. X-Rays, as they became known, are used for the first time the following year.
|The Modern World||1909, Germany: After 10 years of research Paul Ehrlich’s scientific team develop a chemical treatment of the disease syphilis. This type of medicine is called ‘the magic bullet.’
1929, London: Alexander Fleming identifies penicillium and notes its qualities.
1931: invention of the electron microscope
1935, France: Scientist Gerhard Domagk uses a sulphonamide on his daughter to treat blood poisoning. The second ‘magic bullet’ had been discovered.
1939-43, Oxford: A team of scientists led by Howard Florey develop Fleming’s findings on penicillium and enable the mass production of the third, and most significant, magic bullet, penicillin.
1954, America. Jonas Salk develops vaccine for Polio.
1961, Germany: The tranquiliser Thalidomide is introduced t the market. Unfortunately tests had not been conducted to see what effects the drug would have on a foetus, and some 6000 babies are born with deformed limbs, or no limbs at all. As a result laws relating to drug testing and sale are tightened up.