Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-544b6db54f-d2wc8 Total loading time: 0.244 Render date: 2021-10-24T13:58:39.602Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

M. du Bois-Reymond goes to Paris

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 October 2003

GABRIEL FINKELSTEIN
Affiliation:
Department of History, University of Colorado at Denver, PO Box 173364, Denver, Colorado 80217-3364, USA.

Abstract

This article examines the science of electrophysiology developed by Emil du Bois-Reymond in Berlin in the 1840s. In it I recount his major findings, the most significant being his proof of the electrical nature of nerve signals. Du Bois-Reymond also went on to detect this same ‘negative variation’, or action current, in live human subjects. In 1850 he travelled to Paris to defend this startling claim. The essay concludes with a discussion of why his demonstration failed to convince his hosts at the French Academy of Sciences.

La science ne consiste pas en faits, mais dans les conséquences que l'on en tire.Claude Bernard, Introduction à l'étude de la médicine expérimentale

Good talkers are only found in Paris.François Villon, Des Femmes de Paris

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2003 British Society for the History of Science

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Footnotes

Versions of this paper were presented in 1997 to the Center for Cultural Studies of Science, Technology, and Medicine at UCLA and in 1998 to the Department of History of Science at Harvard University, and I am glad of suggestions offered there. I am obliged to the librarians and archivists at the Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz zu Berlin, the Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen, the New York Public Library, the Firestone Library at Princeton University and the Crear Library at the University of Chicago for allowing me access to their holdings. I would also like to thank David Barrett for helping me reformat my notes and Bill MacCallum and Brom Kim for scanning illustrations. I would also like to thank David Cahan, Nicolaas Rupke, Kathy Olesko, Andre Wakefield and Margaret Rossiter for their encouragement. Finally, I wish to dedicate this essay to the memory of my advisor, Gerald L. Geison, a great scholar and a sensitive man.
13
Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

M. du Bois-Reymond goes to Paris
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

M. du Bois-Reymond goes to Paris
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

M. du Bois-Reymond goes to Paris
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *