Medicine: Photostethoscope

Last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Obstetrician Edwin J. De Costa of Chicago described an ingenious machine which amplifies the faint heartbeats of infants during the process of birth. Dr. De Costa places a microphone on the mother's abdomen and connects the amplifier, not to a loudspeaker, which produces distracting noises, but to a specially-constructed neon lamp. The lamp, which he calls a photostethoscope, transforms throbs of sound into pulsations of light, silently reproduces the rate and regularity of fetal heartbeats.


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