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Scientific Discoveries in the Victorian Era

The story of scientific discoveries during the victorian era is one of increadible advances and extreme contrasts. Victorians were extremely reoccupied with the idea of health, or one may say they were obsessed-it is not too strong of a word. Medical science was improving by leaps and bounds. All the contributions made by the many scientists, chemists, doctors will never be forgotten. But, two of the Victorian Era’s most significant discoveries are the sanitation procedures by Joseph Lister and the cure for smallpox by Edward Jenner.

Long before Europe hit the age of discovery, the continent was in a heap of intolerable living conditions. Diseases such as smallpox, typhus, typhoid fever, and particularly tuberculosis created terrifying plagues and epidemics. Childbirth was a very risky undertaking. Maternal mortality was the leading cause of death for women during the 19th century. Victorians also held numerous unscientific notions about illness and disease. It was widely believed that bad air, bad smells, and bad blood were the cause of such things. The idea that “bad air” or bad odors caused disease was known as “miasma theory”. In the early 1800s, very few people could afford or had access to physicians, and doctors had not yet achieved the status and authority they would soon come to enjoy.

As a result of the sanitation problems throughout Europe, Joseph Lister realized that infection was not due to bad air along and that “wound sepsis”, then called the hospital diseases was a form of decomposition. Having tried methods to encourage healing, with little or no success, Lister began to form theories to account for the occurrence of sepsis. He completely discarded the idea of direct infection by bad air and stated the sepsis might be caused by a ‘pollen type dust” Then, in 1865, when Louis Pasteur suggested that decay was caused by living organisms in the air,

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