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Take Your Pick

June 2024
1min read


The October 1996 “Time Machine” in its account of the birth of anesthesia omits the role of Crawford W. Long, the Georgia surgeon who began using ether as an anesthetic in 1842—four years before Dr. William T. G. Morton—but did not publish his findings until 1849.

When controversy arose over who had discovered the new anesthetic, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, an incurable punster, proposed that a monument be erected on Boston Common bearing the busts of both Long and Morton with the inscription TO ETHER . (Or at least that was the story told in Boston when I was young.)

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