An original wooden Stethoscope


Every Monday The Director of the Mütter Museum takes a minute to showcase an item from our collection. This week Robert showcases an original wooden stethoscope. The stethoscope was invented by a French man named René Laennec in 1816. It is a very important tool for listening to the body. You can listen to respiration, heartbeat, even bowel complaints and with a trained ear you can diagnose illness. His discovery was made while he was attending to a very buxom women and did not want to put his ear up to his chest. So he rolled up a piece of paper into a tube and discovered it amplified the sound. The original design was a monaural wooden tube. His device was similar to the common ear trumpet, a historical form of hearing aid; indeed, his invention was almost indistinguishable in structure and function from the trumpet, which was commonly called a “microphone”.

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Al Funcoot says:

I love the slightly morbid sense of humour. If I lived in America, I would be there all of the time.

Becky Finnegan says:

I heard a version of this story on Radiolab.

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