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Free Content Robert Hooke, Inventor of the Vacuum Pump and the First Altitude Chamber (1671)

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Abstract:

Harsch V. Robert Hooke, inventor of the vacuum pump and the first altitude chamber (1671). Aviat Space Environ Med 2006; 77:867–869.



Robert Hooke (1635–1703), an assistant researcher to Robert Boyle (1627–1691), invented the first functional British air pump. Applying it to scientific research, Hooke operated the world’s first hypobaric chamber in 1671, using it for self-experimentation. He recorded the first physiological observations in an artificial altitude-equivalent environment up to 2400 m. Though Hooke’s experiment showed some methodological insufficiencies, his imaginative experimental techniques were remarkable for their time and were indicative of the lively intellectual atmosphere of the Royal Society and the significant contributions of Hooke, who was a member. Two centuries passed before the French physiologist Paul Bert (1830–1886) conducted his famous laboratory-supported investigations of high altitude physiology. Bert played a decisive role in the discovery of the causes of decompression sickness; a contribution Hooke could not make due to the technical deficiencies of the 17th century.

Keywords: Robert Hooke; altitude chamber; history of medicine; medical ethics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2006

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