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Biomedical Person of the Day Muscle Man
26 September 2015

Muscle Man

The science of biophysics – applying the laws of physics to study biological systems – has steadily risen to the forefront in biomedical research. Its foundations lie in work carried out by 19th-century physiologists. One significant contributor was Archibald Hill – born on this day in 1886 – starting with his research into heat production in muscle. As muscles twitched he could measure temperature changes as small as 0.00015°C. He went on, with Otto Meyerhof, to unravel the distinction between aerobic and anaerobic respiration, for which they received the Nobel Prize in 1922. During intense bursts of exercise, muscle cells can’t wait for oxygen to facilitate the necessary energy release. Instead, anaerobic respiration liberates energy without oxygen. After a burst of anaerobic exercise we pant heavily, so repaying the oxygen debt – a term coined by Hill – restoring our tissues to their resting state.

Written by Lindsey Goff

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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