Thursday, 5 January 2017

A Nineteenth Century Rabbit Stomach

Unlike some of my academic colleagues - who advocate reading only scientific literature that has been published within the last five years - I have been reading work from much further back. The detail and explanations may now seem rather outdated but the questions asked and the way in which those questions were asked is still very much valid. Indeed, some of the questions (and their possible answers) have fallen out of fashion without a conclusive answer being reached. While reading Rudolf Virchow's 'Cellular Pathology' (English trans. 1860) (originally published as 'Die Cellularpathologie in ihrer Begr√ľndung auf physiologische und pathologische Gewebelehre' in 1858), I happened upon the following illustration (Fig. 30 on p105) which fascinated my interest in straight lines and right angles.

The caption reads:
'Injected preparation from the muscular coat of the stomach of a rabbit magnified 11 diameters.'
I had not expected this appearance; it looks more like a micrograph of muslin than muscle or associated blood vessels. It was interesting that the magnification was described in terms of being '11 diameters'. I assume this to be the same as the '11x' (11 times) we use today.