seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


Leave a comment

Birth of Lucien Bull, Pioneer in Chronophotography

lucien-bullLucien Bull, a pioneer in chronophotography, is born in Dublin on January 5, 1876. Chronophotography is defined as “a set of photographs of a moving object, taken for the purpose of recording and exhibiting successive phases of motion.”

Born in Dublin to British father, Cornelius Bull, and French mother, Gabrielle Joune, Bull lives his younger years in Dublin where he attends school and lives at home with his parents. In 1894, Bull moves to France to visit his aunts. After several months, Bull eventually settles in the area and becomes an assistant to Étienne-Jules Marey in 1895. At the time, Marey is working on the cinematographic, which is a camera that is shaped like a rifle and takes pictures of moving objects from a rotating plate. This eventually becomes known as the “gun camera.”

This camera is designed to investigate the study of motion. Basically, the “gun camera” is designed to take an object in motion and snap still shots. By taking these still shots, each movement made by the object is captured and then studied to analyze movement patterns that were unable to be studied before. The first successful film is taken in 1904 when Bull is able to film the flight of a fly at 1,200 frames per second.

As a result of Marey’s death in May 1904, Bull becomes head of the Marey Institute, which forms part of the Collège de France. While remaining with the Marey Institute, Bull is naturalized as a French citizen in 1931. After a few years, Bull eventually introduces a few papers on a wide variety of subjects ranging from spark illuminations, high-speed motion-picture photography, original studies of insect and bird flight, and electrocardiography and muscle and heart functions.

In 1933, Bull is put in charge of research, National Office of Research and Invention in France. In 1948 he becomes President of the Institute of Scientific Cinematography in Paris. His work is eventually listed by Dr. W. Hinsch in Research Film for December 1953.

Lucien Bull dies in Paris on August 25, 1972.


Leave a comment

Birth of Professor James Francis “Frank” Pantridge

frank-pantridgeProfessor James Francis “Frank” Pantridge, physician and cardiologist from Northern Ireland, is born in Hillsborough, County Down, on October 3, 1916. Pantridge transforms emergency medicine and paramedic services with the invention of the portable defibrillator.

Pantridge is educated at Friends’ School Lisburn and Queen’s University Belfast, graduating in medicine in 1939. During World War II he serves in the British Army and is commissioned into the Royal Army Medical Corps as a lieutenant on April 12, 1940. He is awarded the Military Cross during the Fall of Singapore, when he becomes a POW. He serves much of his captivity as a slave labourer on the Burma Railway. When he is freed at the end of the war, Pantridge is emaciated and has contracted cardiac beriberi. He suffers from ill-health related to the disease for the remainder of his life.

After Pantridge’s liberation he works as a lecturer in the pathology department at Queen’s University, and then wins a scholarship to the University of Michigan, where he studies under Dr. F.N. Wilson, a cardiologist and authority on electrocardiography.

Pantridge returns to Northern Ireland in 1950 and is appointed as cardiac consultant to the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast and professor at Queen’s University, where he remains until his retirement in 1982. There he establishes a specialist cardiology unit whose work becomes well known.

By 1957, Pantridge and his colleague, Dr. John Geddes, introduce the modern system of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for the early treatment of cardiac arrest. Further study leads Pantridge to the realization that many deaths result from ventricular fibrillation which needs to be treated before the patient is admitted to hospital. This leads to his introduction of the mobile coronary care unit (MCCU), an ambulance with specialist equipment and staff to provide pre-hospital care.

To extend the usefulness of early treatment, Pantridge goes on to develop the portable defibrillator, and in 1965 installs his first version in a Belfast ambulance. It weighs 70 kg and operates from car batteries. By 1968 he has designed an instrument weighing only 3 kg, incorporating a miniature capacitor manufactured for NASA.

His work is backed up by clinical investigations and epidemiological studies in scientific papers, including an influential 1967 The Lancet article. With these developments, the Belfast treatment system, often known as the “Pantridge Plan”, becomes adopted throughout the world by emergency medical services. The portable defibrillator becomes recognised as a key tool in first aid, and Pantridge’s refinement of the automated external defibrillator (AED) allows it to be used safely by members of the public.

Although he is known worldwide as the “Father of Emergency Medicine,” Frank Pantridge is less acclaimed in his own country, and is saddened that it takes until 1990 for all front-line ambulances in the United Kingdom to be fitted with defibrillators.

He died in Hillsborough at the age of 88 on Boxing Day, December 26, 2004. He never married.