Instrumentation for Bioengineering

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Science  03 May 1957:
Vol. 125, Issue 3253, pp. 871-874
DOI: 10.1126/science.125.3253.871


A tremendous range of physical science problems and techniques, from all branches of engineering, are involved in bioengineering instrumentation. The examples I have cited typify the problems that arise, but the techniques we have used represent only an infinitesimal fraction of the resources that we must exploit. The main challenge to the bioengineer is that of defining the problem in terms of what is useful and economically justified. One must understand the possibilities of engineering development and the probability that an effort will reach any assignable goal within a given time. Only then is it possible to work out a practical solution to the instrumentation problem. It is very easy to become so absorbed in the engineering development that we lose sight of the final goal and the purpose of the development. It is also easy, in working out an experiment, to become obsessed with the need for a particular bit of data, or of too great a degree of precision, without considering that the cost of obtaining these data might not be justified by their value to the full development. Thus, the only principles that can be generally applied to a bioengineering problem are those which would apply to making any decision that leans heavily on judgment.