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Welcome to Trailblazing

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Welcome to Trailblazing, an interactive timeline for everybody with an interest in science. Compiled by scientists, science communicators and historians – and co-ordinated by Professor Michael Thompson FRS – it celebrates three and a half centuries of scientific endeavour and has been launched to commemorate the Royal Society’s 350th anniversary in 2010.

Trailblazing is a user-friendly, ‘explore-at-your-own-pace’, virtual journey through science. It showcases sixty fascinating and inspiring articles selected from an archive of more than 60,000 published by the Royal Society between 1665 and 2010.

Use the slider or the Forward/back 50 years arrows to move around the timeline. Best viewed at screen resolution of 1280x1024 resolution or higher.

Scientific articles are displayed as red circles. Rollover the circle for a summary and click the tabs for more information. There is a short introduction and also links to full scientific articles. You can print the information too.

Historic events are shown by silver circles. Rolling the mouse over the silver circle will summarise the event.

Highlight commentaries in will filter the timeline, to show you only the scientific articles that relate to that topic.

You can also download highlighted commentaries as PDF.

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Keeping a dog alive by blowing through its lungs with bellows

Robert Hooke began his career as an assistant to physicist Robert Boyle, helping him to construct the air pump—a subject that stuck with him. In 1667, at the age of 32, Robert Hooke was asked by the Royal Society to perform a stimulating demonstration, and he returned with a dog restrained on its back with an open thorax, connected to two bellows. Using one of the bellows, Hooke showed that the ‘supply of fresh air’, rather than the ‘bare motion of the lungs’, kept the dog alive for hours. Using the second of the bellows to produce a positive pressure through rapid pumping, he then perforated the lungs to make his case. The continuous flow of air kept the dog alive. Around 250 years later, the first clinically useful ventilator equipment was used, for pumping air into the trachea via tubes, based on Hooke’s principle. This marked the beginnings of modern endotracheal anaesthesia. Hooke himself continued on the themes of stretching and elasticity to develop the fundamental Hooke’s Law: that an elastic body bends or stretches out of shape (strain) in direct proportion to the force acting on it (stress).

Andrew Parker, Natural History Museum.

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Respiration of a dog

Experiment on the respiration of a dog.

© Wellcome Library, London