William Harvey and the heart Galen distinguished venous system (centered on liver; distributed food to body) from arterial system (centered on heart; distributed ‘pneuma’ to keep body active). Galen said a little venous blood passed through tiny holes in the septum and mixed with air from the lungs to produce ‘vivified’ arterial blood. By mid-1500s, Padua anatomists had doubts: could find no holes in septum; valves allowed only one-way flow; pulmonary vein carried only blood, not air. William Harvey (English, 1578–1657) studied at Padua, became royal physician at London. Strong Aristotelian, but followed Aristotle’s methods more than his theories ; stressed direct observation and experiment. In De motu cordis et sanguinis (‘On the motion of the heart and blood’), 1628, Harvey argued that the heart acts as a pump: blood flows in a closed loop, out through arteries and back in through veins.
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