28 October 2009

Circulation of Blood

Who discovered the circulation of the blood? If you're British, you probably think it was William Harvey (in 1616, you might add, if you're feeling show-offy). If you're Swiss or Spanish, though, you may not need telling it was Miguel Serveto (Michael Servetus), in 1553. I'm grateful to Samia Hurst (the French-speaking bio-ethicist whose blog I follow with bewildered fascination) for her post yesterday, marking the anniversary of his death by fire at the command of John Calvin. If you can read French, go and have a look, but in any case, check out his wikipedia entry. What a life! And what a wonderful advert for atheism. Obviously one of the smartest men of his age, he ended up sentenced to death by both protestants and catholics. And in the middle of it he made the discovery of pulmonary circulation, but because it was published in a book full of heresy (excellent firewood!) all but three copies were lost.

So we can continue to feel some patriotic pride in Harvey's discovery.

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