The world as seen through the clarifying lens of the 9th Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1875-1889).

Monday, 19 May 2008

17. What I have learned this weekend

The Clavicle, or Collar Bone, is an elongated bone which extends from the upper end of the sternum horizontally outwards, to articulate with the acromion process of the scapula. It presents a strong sigmoidal curve, which is associated with the transverse and horizontal direction of the axis of the human shoulder. It is slender in the female, but powerful in muscular males [...]. The clavicle is absent in the hoofed quadrupeds, in the seals and whales, and is feeble in the carnivora ; but it is well formed, not only in man, but in apes, bats, and in many rodents and insectivora.

(From ANATOMY, by Sir William Turner, M.B., F.R.S., Professor of Anatomy in the University of Edinburgh, in vol. 1 of the 9th edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1875)

As the derivation of the term implies, the chief component parts of this machine consist of two wheels. The word is applied to those two-wheeled machines which have been brought to their present state of perfection for human locomotion during the past five years.

[...] There being no lateral support to the machine, the first thing to be learned is balancing, after which it is best to begin riding down a gentle gradient without using the treadles [...] Falls are inevitable at first, and they are best avoided by slightly turning the driving-wheel in the direction the machine is inclining, not the contrary way.

(From BICYCLE, uncredited, EB9 vol 3, 1875)

A bone may be broken at the part where it is struck, or it may break in consequence of a strain applied to it. In the former case the fracture is generally transverse and in the latter more or less oblique in direction.

(From SURGERY, by John Chiene, M.D., Professor of Surgery, University of Edinburgh ; Charles Creighton, M.A., M.D. ; F. M. Caird, M.B., C.M. ; and Prof. A. W. Hare, M.B., Owens College, Manchester, EB9 vol 22, 1887)

If we consider our mental condition as regards sensation at any moment, we notice numerous sensations more or less definite, [...] such as a feeling of general comfort, free or impeded breathing, hunger, thirst, malaise, horror, fatigue, and pain. These are all caused by the irritation of ordinary sensory nerves in different localities, and if the irritation of such nerves, by chemical, thermal, mechanical, or nutritional stimuli, passes beyond a certain maximum point of intensity, the result is pain. [...] The intensity of pain depends upon the degree of excitability of the sensory nerves, whilst its massiveness depends upon the number of nerve fibres affected. The quality of the pain is probably produced by the kind of irritation of the nerve, as affected by the structure of the part and the greater or less continuance of severe pressure. Thus there are piercing, cutting, boring, burning, throbbing, pressing, gnawing, dull, and acute varieties of pain.

(From TOUCH, by J. G. M'Kendrick, M.D., LL.D., F.R.S., Professor of the Institutes of Medicine, University of Glasgow, EB9 vol 23, 1888)

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