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How the stethoscope was invented | Moments of Vision 7 - Jessica Oreck


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The stethoscope is the single most widely used medical instrument in the world. But where did the idea come from? In the seventh installment of our ‘Moments of Vision’ series, Jessica Oreck shares the modest origins of this incredibly useful item.

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For more information about how a stethoscope amplifies sounds, look here. You can even make your own stethoscope and measure your heart rate at home. Though the mechanism of the stethoscope today is more or less the same as that of René Laennec’s first stethoscope, the appearance of the stethoscope has changed a lot over the years.

The stethoscope isn’t the only common medical tool resulting from a chance discovery. Outside the field of medicine, there are even more accidental discoveries. Most scientific research today is results-driven, based on a specific hypothesis. Because scientists have stumbled upon important innovations throughout history, there has also been a push for more "blue skies research," exploration of ideas that don't have obvious applications. When discoveries as important as the cause of AIDS were discovered through blue skies research, we have to wonder: what insights and innovations might we gain by allowing for more open-ended research?

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Jessica Oreck
  • Director Jessica Oreck
  • Animator Jessica Oreck
  • Composer Eli Janney, Nate Shaw
  • Narrator Jessica Oreck

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