Organ measurement

I’ve been saving up this particular Word of the Week for a while now–so long, in fact, I can’t remember where I first came across the word! I suspect it was in the science and technology section of the Economist. Must go through some back issues and see if I can dig it out. Mind you, if it was indeed the Economist, then the meaning of the word would have been quite obvious, so I wouldn’t have needed to go Google it, would I?

Anyway, enough rambling.

Today’s Word of the Week is:

PHOTOPLETHYSMOGRAPH… which of course flags as a WTH? (i.e. no such word) in spell-check. Hah. Just goes to show what spell-check knows *triumphant evil grin*

So what the heck is a photoplethysmograph?

It’s a device used to measure organs — of the bodily kind, not the musical kind.

Specifically, it’s “a device used to optically obtain a volumetric measurement of an organ”. And according to Wikipedia, it might be useful for “cardiovasculary monitoring, respiration detection and pulse wave analysis”. So there you go.

And just in case you were terribly fascinated and wanted to know more, “the trace generated by the device is called photoplethysmogram”.

The most interesting photo I found when I Googled images for “photoplethysmograph” linked back to a website called Pattern Recognition: Thoughts on life at Stanford and beyond.  Check out the photo with the lioness! Yikes.

And the caption reads: “Always check that the Photoplethysmograph is mounted correctly”. Oookay. Well, I’d be more worried about the subject the photoplethysmograph is hooked up to, but whatever ;-)


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