MadSci Network: Science History

Re: Why was the Canadian inventor of the Pacemaker not acknowledged?

Date: Thu Sep 1 14:22:54 2005
Posted By: Michael Weaver, Staff, Biology/Microbiology
Area of science: Science History
ID: 1121214766.Sh


I think that the answer to the previous question was meant to give the reader a glimpse at the development of internal cardiac pacing. Based solely on patents, there is no real controversy over who invented the pacemaker.

Canadian, John Hopps invented the first external cardiac pacemaker. Hopps was trained as an electrical engineer at the University of Manitoba and joined the National Research Council in 1941, where he conducted research on hypothermia. While experimenting with radio frequency heating to restore body temperature, Hopps made an unexpected discovery: if a heart stopped beating due to cooling, it could be started again by artificial stimulation using mechanical or electric means. This lead to Hopps' invention of the world's first cardiac pacemaker in 1950. His device was far too large to be implanted inside of the human body (Source: National Reseach Council of Canada inno_pacemaker_e.html)

American, Wilson Greabatch invented the first internal cardiac pacemaker. After earning a BS (Cornell) and MSEE (University of Buffalo), and after serving with the Navy in World War II, Wilson Greatbatch began working in medical research. Greatbatch was building an oscillator to record heart sounds. When he accidentally installed a resistor with the wrong resistance into the unit, it began to give off a steady electrical pulse. Greatbatch realized that the small device could be used to regulate the human heart. After two years of refinements, he had hand-crafted the world's first successful implantable pacemaker (patent #3,057,356). Until that time, the apparatus used to regulate heartbeat was the size of a television set, and painful to use. Greatbatch later went one step further, inventing a corrosion-free lithium battery to power the pacemaker. All told, his pacemakers and batteries have improved and saved the lives of millions of persons worldwide. Thus in 1985 the National Society of Professional Engineers named Greatbatch's invention one of the ten greatest engineering contributions to society of the last 50 years. (Source: National Inventors Hall of Fame ll_of_fame/70.html)

As for the United States being the center of the universe, that is true. Of course, Canada is also the center of the universe. No matter where you are in the universe it appears to expand from your position. (Source: http://www.ex

Mike Weaver
MAD Scientist

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