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This glass syringe was used and invented by Joseph Lister (1827-1912) in his experiments on the souring of milk. He discovered that milk straight from animals is generally free from bacteria. When milk soured, he found the micro-organisms present were of the same type, which he named Bacterium lactis. The syringe could measure one or more hundredths of a minim. A minim is equivalent to 0.062ml – a very precise measurement. Lister’s work on the souring of milk is rarely mentioned as it is normally eclipsed by his work on antisepsis.

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    Glossary: micro-organism

    A tiny single-celled living organism too small to be seen by the naked eye. Micro-organisms that cause disease are called bacteria.

    Glossary: antisepsis

    The practice of using antiseptic drugs to eliminate harmful micro-organisms.

    Glossary: syringe

    An instrument used for injecting or withdrawing fluids. The open end of the syringe may be fitted with a hypodermic needle for injection into the bloodstream.

    Glossary: bacteria

    Micro-organisms which can cause disease but have an important role in global ecology.