The dramatic history of anaesthetics

BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time had a recent programme on the history of anaesthetics, covering their discovery and their application from the first pain killers to their use in modern day surgery.

It starts with Humphrey Davy testing a wide selection of seemingly randomly chosen gases on himself and discovering ‘laughing gas’ or nitrous oxide.

The programme continues to cover the development of other important Victorian anaesthetics such as ether, chloroform and cocaine, including dramatic demonstrations, usually involving public operations or tests on unwary research assistants.

Link to In Our Time on anaesthetics (with audio).

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