The Sound of Intoxication

The microfauna was an instrument to collect microorganisms from the air, invented by Nikola Tesla in 1879. It worked much like a mass spectrometer. When connected to a microfauna data recorder, it enabled scientists to determine the exact composition of the air. Unlike the mass spectrometer, it did so in terms of microorganisms, rather than molecules. The microfauna was, and …

To Be or to Be Someone Else

Identity crises have been around as long as identities and crises, but they weren’t identified as a medical affliction until the early 1960s (by an unidentified psychiatrist). The official medical term was, and still is, I Want to Be Somebody Else Syndrome, but Identity Crisis sounds less silly and has become the label of choice for most psychiatrists and laymen. …

Pigtails, Duckbills and Roasted Guinea Pigs

The invention of the duckbill speculum in 1845 revolutionized gynaecology. Up until then, doctors had been using the bills of actual ducks (usually dead ones). American doctor and animal rights activist J. Marion Sims felt there had to be a better way and set out to find it. After numerous experiments on volunteers (South Carolina slaves volunteered by their owners, …