Surgery Barber, Doctor, Surgeon and Peruke (wig) maker in the 17th Century

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Advances in Medicine and Surgery:

Significant advances were made in medicine and surgery during the 17th century. It was difficult to explore the human body as the church forbade the dissection of dead bodies. This meant that progress was slow, leaving people to suffer terrible cures and medicines.

Significant Scientists:

  • Englishman William Harvey, 1578- 1657, produced the theory that blood is pumped around the body in a single, closed circulatory system, with the heart acting as a pump with valves to control the flow.

  • Descartes, 1596- 1650, concluded that the body was made up of many different components. Giovanni Borelli, Marcello Malpighi and Giorgio Baglivi between them studied the lungs, muscles, kidneys and stomach.

  • Sanctorius, 1516- 1636, first used precision instruments in medicine, designing the first clinical thermometer and building the first weighing machine.

  • Athanasius Kircher, 1602- 1680, is noted as being the first man to use a microscope to investigate the cause of diseases.

  • Robert Hooke, 1635- 1703, used the microscope to describe individual cells.

  • Dutchman, Antonj van Leewenhoek, 1632- 1723, first noted red blood cells and bacteria.

  • Chemist, Robert Boyle, described how the body takes in oxygen to breathe; stating that without this gas, animals and birds would die.

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