Article ID: CBB070234266

Seeing Sounds? Styling Vision? The mechanical visualisation of acoustic phenomena in cardiac diagnostics around 1900 (2012)


During the nineteenth century, physicians and physiologists attempted to translate heart sounds into graphs with the help of phonocardiographic instruments. This shift required the adaption for changing diagnostic concepts from feeling to seeing. On a technical level, complicated tools had to be invented to transform sounds and murmurs into optically accessible graphs or images. The reasoning for why physicians were striving to transform one sense into another has yet to be addressed. In this paper, we analysed the transduction of sound signals in graphs in medical diagnostics and discuss the driving forces behind phonocardiography, which was developed around 1900. Using Ludwik Fleck's concept of thought collectives and thought styles, we explain specific diagnostic style developments in phonocardiography as an intertwined process that reconciles hearing, seeing and thinking styles with engineering technology. Our hypothesis is that self-evident concepts of mechanically produced images drove the development of technology—based diagnostic procedures that use sound to produce images.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Article Martin, Michael; Fangerau, Heiner; (2011)
Seeing Sounds? The Visualization of Acoustic Phenomena in Heart Diagnostics (/isis/citation/CBB001250234/)

Article Johannisson, Karin; (2004)
Örat som medicinsk teknik (/isis/citation/CBB000772813/)

Book Gemma Almond-Brown; (2023)
Spectacles and the Victorians: Measuring, defining and shaping visual capacity (/isis/citation/CBB163836400/)

Article Richard A. Reinhart; (2020)
The Stethoscope in 19th-Century American Practice: Ideas, Rhetoric, and Eventual Adoption (/isis/citation/CBB628696697/)

Article Dai, Wu-san; (2002)
A Primary X-Ray Apparatus Was Admitted into Soochow Hospital in 1897 (/isis/citation/CBB000340087/)

Thesis Millett, David E.; (2001)
Wiring the brain: From the excitable cortex to the EEG, 1870--1940 (/isis/citation/CBB001562579/)

Article Juliano Marcal Lopes; Patrícia Marrone; Sergio Luiz Pereira; Eduardo Mario Dias; (September 2019)
Health 4.0: Challenges for an Orderly and Inclusive Innovation (/isis/citation/CBB231920732/)

Book Serlin, David; (2004)
Replaceable You: Engineering the Body in Postwar America (/isis/citation/CBB000830667/)

Article Weisz, G. M.; (2010)
Rapid Urinary Antigen Diagnosis of Infectious Diseases: The Legacy of Dr. Ludwik Fleck (/isis/citation/CBB001032269/)

Article Verhoeff, Berend; (2014)
Stabilizing Autism: A Fleckian Account of the Rise of a Neurodevelopmental Spectrum Disorder (/isis/citation/CBB001420121/)

Article Price, Jay M.; Mershon, James; Barlow, Teddie; (2005)
Echoing off the Heart of the Heartland: The Mid-States Companies, Echocardiography, and Rural Medicine (/isis/citation/CBB000640021/)

Article Dorothea Heitsch; (2016)
Descartes, Cardiac Heat, and Alchemy (/isis/citation/CBB129773840/)

Article Breathnach, Caoimhghín S.; Moynihan, John B.; (2014)
Joseph Erlanger (1874--1965): The Cardiovascular Investigator Who Won a Nobel Prize in Neurophysiology (/isis/citation/CBB001422000/)

Authors & Contributors
Dai, Wu-san
Price, Jay M.
Barlow, Teddie
Mershon, James
Johannisson, Karin
Serlin, David
Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin Canadienne d'Histoire de la Medecine
Zhongguo Keji Shiliao (China Historical Materials of Science and Technology)
Agricultural History
Polhem: Tidskrift för Teknikhistoria
History of Science
Würzburger Medizinhistorische Mitteilungen
University of Chicago Press
The University
University of Chicago
Manchester University Press
Medical technology
Engineering, biomedical
Fleck, Ludwik
Helmholtz, Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von
Erlanger, Joseph
Howell, William Henry
Gasser, Herbert Spencer
Descartes, René
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, late
21st century
20th century, early
20th century
United States
University of California, Berkeley
Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment