Recreating the Pulsilogium of Santorio: Outlines for a Historically-Engaged Endeavour
Bulletin - Scientific Instrument Society
Scientific Instrument Society
Between 2015 and 2016 a series of seminars on the history of early modern technology and medicine were held at the Centres for Medical History and Biomedical Modelling and Analysis of the University of Exeter. As a result of that work we laid down the basis for the first historically accurate reconstruction of a seventeenth-century instrument, the pulsilogium of Sanctorius (1561-1636). Previous copies were in fact either simple models for display or lacked any commitment to historical accuracy. This short contribution explores some of the results we obtained from the recreation of this device and experiments we recreated which shed new light on the early application of the pendulum as a scientific instrument. A fuller and much more detailed account of these discoveries will be given in a forthcoming contribution edited by Filip Buyse for a special issue of the Journal of Social and Political Science.
The archival research on Santorio’s instruments was originally supported by the SIS Grant awarded in 2014 to Dr Fabrizio Bigotti and has been supported thereafter by the Wellcome Trust as part of a major project on quantification in medicine aimed at classifying, understanding and recreating all of Santorio’s instruments for physiological and physical measurement (106580/Z/14/Z). The reconstruction of Santorio’s Pulsilogium (Type A2), however, is very much a team effort and was part of the engaged research project The Laboratory of Santorio held at the University of Exeter – Centres for Medical History and Biomedical Modelling and Analysis. Finally, we would like to express our gratitude to Prof. Jonathan Barry, Co-director of the Centre for Medical History, for his constant and unconditioned support throughout the project duration.
This is the final version of the article. Available on open access from the publisher via the link in this record.
Credit: Scientific Instrument Society
Vol. 133, pp. 30 - 35