Science and Technology in Medicine

Published By: Springer

Book Category: Non-Fiction, Science

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Reviewed by Muhammed Hassanali

Subtitled: An Illustrated Account Based on Ninety-Nine Landmark Publications from Five Centuries

This book outlines 99 of the “most significant” discoveries in the medical field from the sixteenth century to the present time. With its beautiful illustrations and concise text, it delineates the complex exchange among the sciences that underscores our increasing quantitative and technical medical diagnostic and therapeutic practices today. Each entry starts with a one-paragraph biography of the personality, a summary of publications, and a paragraph titled “in perspective” which outlines how the discovery or invention helped extend the frontiers of medicine. Minimal text and rich illustrations carry the story, contextualizing it within the larger framework of the history of medicine. The visual effect evokes one’s curiosity at a fundamental level, making it an excellent source for inspiring further learning.

The first entry focuses on Albrecht Durer’s efforts in 1525 of applying mathematics to discover proportion and form of the human body. Durer had a background in goldsmithing, painting and geometry. Applying these skills, the way he did seems natural in retrospect. Gedeon reproduces some of Durer’s works in the illustrations that follow. The last entry is that of Michel Phelps for the development of positron emission tomographic scanning.

Between Durer and Phelps are entries that document the contributions of medical giants like Pare, Pasteur, and Lister. There are also biographical accounts of luminaries that one does not normally associate with medical advancement per se, but whose contributions have helped advance the frontiers of medicine. These include Bernoulli, Fourier, Poiseuille and Doppler. Gedeon also profiles relevant contributions of those who are better known for their contributions outside the medical field such as Wern (better known for his contributions to architecture) and Kepler (better known for his work in astrophysics).

In the preface Gedeon writes: “Any selection of topics or specific discoveries is justly subject to criticism. Considering ninety-nine books rather than an even one hundred is intended to be a symbolic invitation to the reader to reflect on how the present framework could be modified according to his or her own knowledge and preferences [pg 10].” With exquisite illustrations and minimal text, he inspires us to interpret the history of medicine for ourselves.

Armchair Interviews says: For anyone who loves science.

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