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Posts tagged ‘physiology’

Behind the picture: Leonard Hill and the divers

Leonard Hill wasn’t the type of researcher to confine his research to the laboratory, as this picture shows. Here Julie Clayton, author of a new history of the MRC National Institute for Medical Research, takes a look behind this picture to a man concerned with the health and wellbeing of everyone from slum-dwelling children to parliamentarians.

Leonard Hill with a diver sitting either side

Leonard Hill on a boat during a diving experiment (Image copyright: The Physiological Society, sourced from the Wellcome Library)

 This photo, taken circa 1925, shows Leonard Hill ― mustachioed and dressed somewhat inappropriately for a day on the water ― alongside two of his research subjects.

As well as wearing these cumbersome suits, deep-water divers at the time often suffered the painful and dangerous condition of “the bends” when they ascended too quickly to the surface.

It was physiologist Hill who found that the drop in external pressure during ascent led to the formation of tiny bubbles of nitrogen gas in the blood. He did experiments on frogs to demonstrate that the bubbles dissolve again into the blood stream upon recompression. His work led to recommendations for a slow and steady decompression for divers as a remedy. Read more