The history of our knowledge regarding the functions of the lungs
Busher, Edwin James
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A brief survey of our knowledge of Lung function, from the historical point of view, calls for little consideration of present day work. Suffice it to say that this age is one in which an attempt is made to put medical knowledge on a scientific basis. A wealth of modern literature testifies to the attempt to further the knowledge of Lung function. One who has witnessed animal experiments on Lung function carried out by such a worker as McDowall of London, and has heard the recent reports of Daly 4' and others in Edinburgh and elsewhere, on the investigations particularly of the Vascular System of the Lungs, realises that the present age is one of earnest search for knowledge. Much remains to be learnt of the working of the Lungs, of their highly complex structure and of their relationship to the activities of the blood- vascular and nervous systems. Progress is the result of frequent repetition and careful observation. There is still a need for animal and human experiment to further the knowledge of Lung Physiology, the history of which shows that knowledge does not accumulate steadily, and is gained at the expense of effort. The working of the Lungs is but one aspect of Respiration and Respiration but one aspect of Body function. As Bernard strikingly puts it, "We do not live in air ". A consideration of Lung Physiology gives no scope for discussion of the associated studies of the history of Lung diseases, particularly of Tuberculosis, or of the development of Pulmonary Surgery. Despite our present knowledge of the Lungs, 20. their diseases, together with general respiratory affections, still constitute one of the commonest causes of death. The results of future advances in knowledge should be utilised in the amelioration of the present state of affairs.