The late Alfred Porter Southwick’s most important contribution to dentistry was the development of a treatment for cleft palates, using an implant of his own design.
But Google this mechanic -turned -dentist and you will undoubtedly discover the long range result of his research to use low-voltage electrical current for alleviating pain during dental treatment: his involvement in developing the electric chair.
According the American National Biography Online:
“In 1877 the New York Dental Association recognized Southwick’s achievement (cleft palate treatment) by inviting him to lecture on the treatment at its annual meeting. Southwick then turned his research focus to the use of low-voltage electrical current for alleviating pain during dental treatment.”
Thirteen years and many experiments to find a more “humane method” of capital punishment later, Southwick’s journey progressed, according to anb.org
“In the summer of 1890 Southwick accepted (New York) Governor (David) Hill’s invitation to Auburn to witness the first execution of a prisoner by means of the electric chair. The press descended en masse upon the small Finger Lakes town, creating one of the first international media events, in which Southwick was proclaimed ‘father of the electric chair.’ “