Anaesthetic - it started as a laughing matter - the World of Things

During the 1830s it was popular to have shows where participants paid a few cents to watch fellow audience members make fools of themselves while intoxicated by nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas. A dentist named Horace Wells attended one of these shows where a man who had inhaled the laughing gas badly injured his leg. Wells realized that since the man felt no pain, the gas had an aesthetic effect.

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