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Thermopile used to measure heat production, England, 1930-1940

Thermopile used to measure heat production, England, 1930-1940

Credits: Science Museum

Thermopiles are scientific instruments used to measure small changes in heat. They were used by Archibald V Hill (1886-1977), a British physiologist studying the heat produced by nerves and muscles when they are stimulated. The heat produced by muscles and nerves is recorded using a galvanometer. Hill studied heat and energy exchanges from the 1910s onwards, discovering that heat is produced by nerves and becoming one of the founders of the field of biophysics in the process. The thermopile is shown here with two similar examples (1989-157 and 1989-162).

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Glossary: thermopile

An instrument of extreme sensibility, used to determine slight differences and degrees of heat