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Doctors only started measuring body temperature 200 years ago – here's why

By Teresa Hollerbach, Research Scholar, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
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Over the past year, fever thermometers have become omnipresent. Body temperature is taken in front of shops, at airports, even before visiting a museum – often with ultra-modern devices. So-called fever cameras or fever scanners can determine the body temperature even without contact. It might now seem obvious that fevers are connected to a high body temperature – in many cultures, the question “do you have a temperature?” is clear evidence of that – but this hasn’t always been the case.

The beginnings of measuring fever go back more than 400 years. At the turn of the 17th century,…

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