Santorio Santorio (1561-1636) · INDEX

A friend of Galileo and professor of medicine at Padua, Santorio used innovative mechanisms for his research. He recorded changes in daily body temperature with the first air thermometer. He also measured pulse rates with Galileo's pulsilogium (pulsiometer). Ever inventive, Santorio studied digestion by constructing a wooden frame that supported a chair, bed, and work table. Suspended from the ceiling with scales, the frame recorded changes in weight.

For thirty years, Santorio slept, ate, worked, and made love in the weighing contraption to record how much his weight changed as he ate, fasted, or excreted. He invented the term "insensible perspiration" to account for differences in body weight, because he believed that weight was gained or lost through the pores or during respiration. Often depriving himself of food and drink, Santorio determined that the daily change in body mass approached 1.25 kg. Santorio's book of aphorisms, De Medicina Statica Aphorismi (1614), drew worldwide attention. Although he did not explain the role of nutrition in weight gain or loss, Santorio nevertheless inspired later researchers in metabolism, especially during the eighteenth century.

© Frank I. Katch, William D. McArdle, Victor L. Katch. 1997.

Copyright ©1997