Haldane, John Scott

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Haldane, John Scott

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John Scott Haldane was born on May 3rd, 1860 in Edinburgh, Scotland to Robert Haldane and his wife Mary Elizabeth. His uncle was Sir John Burdon Sanderson, Waynflete Professor of Physiology in Oxford and known for his stance on vivisection. Haldane graduated with a degree in medicine from Edinburgh University in 1884.

Haldane studied the a wide range of issues dealing with respiration, including suffocative gases in coal mines and wells, low barometric pressure and acclimatization of the human body to high altitudes, deep sea diving and effects of poison gas on the human body. Haldane’s research was influential in understanding of the effects of carbon monoxide on the human body and its role in deaths in colliery explosions and underground fires. It was at this time that he became associated with the mining profession, which continued until his death. His work saved countless lives and vastly improved safety in a myriad of environments.

In 1898, Haldane invented the haemoglobinometer, which was an apparatus used to quickly analyze the mixture of air and gas in blood. In 1917, he led a scientific expedition to Pike’s Peak in Colorado, where he studied the effects of low barometric pressure and respiration at high altitudes. Haldane developed stage decompression for the Admiralty, which has been a problem for their deep-sea divers who ran the risk of decompression sickness before this point. He also designed dive tables, which were used until 1956. During WWI, he identified the type of gas used by the Germans and designed a portable oxygen administration apparatus that was use in the field in oxygen tents. He designed the first gas masks for use in chemical warfare. Haldane was well known for often experimenting on himself, sometimes inhaling toxic gases and observing the effects of decompression on himself.

Haldane died in Oxford at midnight on March 14th 1936.


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Burdon-Sanderson, John, Sir (1828-1905)

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