discovery of penicillin

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pages: 515 words: 117,501

Miracle Cure by William Rosen

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, availability heuristic, biofilm, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, Copley Medal, creative destruction, demographic transition, discovery of penicillin, Ernest Rutherford, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, Frederick Winslow Taylor, friendly fire, functional fixedness, germ theory of disease, global supply chain, Haber-Bosch Process, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johannes Kepler, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Louis Pasteur, medical malpractice, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, New Journalism, obamacare, out of africa, pattern recognition, Pepto Bismol, randomized controlled trial, selection bias, stem cell, transcontinental railway, working poor

As Almroth Wright no doubt realized, the institution that could claim penicillin for its own would be a repository of both public acclaim, and a greater share of the financial resources of philanthropies and government agencies. The ways in which a legitimate claim to discovery profited the discoverers of penicillin—like the discovery of Salvarsan or Prontosil before—remain huge, even without calculating the benefits to society at large. But those ways pale in comparison to the very tangible profits that would be generated by the discoveries that followed. FIVE “To See the Problem Clearly” The battles over credit for the discovery of penicillin were still a year in the future when Howard Florey left Peoria in the summer of 1941. He left Heatley behind to work with Moyer and the rest of the Northern Lab team, while he transformed himself into North America’s most prominent penicillin evangelist.

Some years later, it was identified as one of the components of the body’s innate immune system, whose activity works to damage bacterial cell walls. This is a nontrivial ability that offers some protection against infection, particularly in newborn children, but isn’t much use against most pathogens. The same can’t be said of Fleming’s next encounter with good fortune, which occurred some five years later. Credit: Wellcome Library, London Alexander Fleming, 1881–1955 The canonical story of the discovery of penicillin is eerily similar to the one describing the chance discovery of lysozyme. As Fleming later recalled, he had sloppily left Petri dishes containing staph cultures unattended on a bench in his St. Mary’s lab when he departed for vacation in August 1928. When he returned, on September 3, he found that one of the Petri dishes had been contaminated, again via a conveniently open window, this time by a fungus.

He was painfully shy, and had no interest in discussing either his methods or results, which is why it’s at least plausible that Fleming’s penchant for games, combined with his natural reticence, persuaded him to cast the lysozyme discovery as if it had been the equivalent of drawing a winning hand at bridge. Understanding why he would trot out such a similar story for the far more important discovery of penicillin requires some additional context. The first, and most important, fact about the discovery is that hardly anything about it was documented at the time. Six months would pass before Fleming published his results in 1929, and penicillin would remain at best a novelty, at worst a dead end, for another decade. By the time the magnitude of the discovery came to light, it’s certainly possible that the details had faded in Fleming’s memory, or that he recalled a sequence of events reminiscent of his earlier discovery without any intention to deceive.


pages: 564 words: 163,106

The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine by M. D. James le Fanu M. D.

Barry Marshall: ulcers, clean water, cuban missile crisis, discovery of penicillin, double helix, experimental subject, Gary Taubes, Isaac Newton, lateral thinking, meta analysis, meta-analysis, rising living standards, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), stem cell, telerobotics, The Design of Experiments, the scientific method, V2 rocket

I would recommend The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine. I found it informative and intriguing’ THOMAS STUTTAFORD in the Literary Review ‘The skill [of medical journalism] is to write with humanity and objectivity, a dual responsibility brilliantly fulfilled by the author . . . This book is well worth reading just for the brilliant pen portraits of Le Fanu’s twelve definitive moments of medical advance. Some, like the discovery of penicillin, are well known, but even here the author has a way of encapsulation that is full of insights and unusual detail . . . It would be possible to close the book here, just over halfway through, and still feel you had had your money’s worth. But the challenge is in the second half, where three much hyped hopes for the future are brought down to earth . . . This excellent book has challenged many of my views’ DAVID OWEN in the Spectator ‘[The first] part of the book makes a jolly good yarn.

There were, however, three ‘new’ diseases that had recently emerged to become major causes of untimely death in middle age: peptic ulcers, heart attacks and cancer of the lung. Their cause was not known and, as ever, there were no effective treatments. The purpose of this book is to describe what happened next, starting with an account of the ‘twelve definitive moments’ – the ‘canon’ – of modern medicine. 1 1941: PENICILLIN The discovery of penicillin is, predictably, both the first of the twelve definitive moments of the modern therapeutic revolution and the most important. Penicillin and the other antibiotics that followed rapidly in its wake cured not only the acute lethal infections such as septicaemia, meningitis and pneumonia, but also the chronic and disabling ones such as chronic infections of the sinuses, joints and bones. This in turn liberated medicine to shift its attention in the coming decades to a completely different and up till then neglected source of human misfortune: the chronic diseases associated with ageing, such as arthritic hips and furred-up arteries.

If a naturally occurring non-toxic chemical compound produced by a species of fungus such as penicillin could make the difference between whether a child with meningitis should live or die, it was only natural to wonder whether other ghastly and baffling illnesses might not yield to similar simple solutions. Perhaps cancer might be curable, or schizophrenia might be treatable? In the public imagination antibiotics came to symbolise the almost limitless beneficent possibilities of science. Yet this is not entirely merited, for, as will be seen, the discovery of penicillin was not the product of scientific reasoning but rather an accident – much more improbable than is commonly appreciated. Further, at the core of antibiotics lies an unresolved mystery: why should just a few species of micro-organisms produce these complex chemical compounds with the capacity to destroy the full range of bacteria that cause infectious disease in humans? On 12 February 1941, a 43-year-old policeman, Albert Alexander, became the first person to be treated with penicillin.


pages: 105 words: 34,444

The Open Revolution: New Rules for a New World by Rufus Pollock

Airbnb, discovery of penicillin, Donald Davies, Donald Trump, double helix, Hush-A-Phone, informal economy, Internet of things, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, Kickstarter, Live Aid, openstreetmap, packet switching, RAND corporation, Richard Stallman, software patent, speech recognition

That without patents there would be many fewer medicines and many more who miss out on treatment? That too needs examination, because almost every innovative medicine we now have started with work in a government-funded research lab – and many of them were completed there too. This is especially true of our greatest advances, from Pasteur’s germ theory to Fleming’s discovery of penicillin and right through to today’s work on gene therapies and predictive medicine. Alexander Fleming’s work was paid for by public institutions. Accordingly, he did not hide or patent the discovery of penicillin, but published it for everyone to test, use and build upon, so helping to save millions of lives. On the same principle, current and future work that is paid for collectively by the public is usually Openly available. And this is a huge proportion: almost half of all medical R&D in the world today is funded directly by governments, and in basic scientific research the proportion is much higher.


pages: 397 words: 110,130

Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better by Clive Thompson

4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, augmented reality, barriers to entry, Benjamin Mako Hill, butterfly effect, citizen journalism, Claude Shannon: information theory, conceptual framework, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of penicillin, disruptive innovation, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, drone strike, Edward Glaeser, Edward Thorp, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, Filter Bubble, Freestyle chess, Galaxy Zoo, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Gunnar Myrdal, Henri Poincaré, hindsight bias, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, information retrieval, iterative process, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, lifelogging, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Netflix Prize, Nicholas Carr, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, patent troll, pattern recognition, pre–internet, Richard Feynman, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, Socratic dialogue, spaced repetition, superconnector, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, transaction costs, Vannevar Bush, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, X Prize, éminence grise

Learning that other people have the same idea can be anything from annoying to terrifying. Scientists themselves are hardly immune. Because they want the fame of discovery, once they learn someone else is working on a similar problem, they’re as liable to compete as to collaborate—and they’ll bicker for decades over who gets credit. The story of penicillin illustrates this as well. Three decades after Duchesne made his discovery of penicillin, Alexander Fleming in 1928 stumbled on it again, when some mold accidentally fell into a petri dish and killed off the bacteria within. But Fleming didn’t seem to believe his discovery could be turned into a lifesaving medicine, so, remarkably, he never did any animal experiments and soon after dropped his research entirely. Ten years later, a pair of scientists in Britain—Ernest Chain and Howard Florey—read about Fleming’s work, intuited that penicillin could be turned into a medicine, and quickly created an injectable drug that cured infected mice.

Some of my favorite analyses include Kevin Kelly in What Technology Wants (New York: Penguin, 2010), Kindle edition; Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation (New York: Penguin, 2010), 34–35; and Malcolm Gladwell, “In the Air,” The New Yorker, May 12, 2008, accessed March 22, 2013, www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/05/12/080512fa_fact_gladwell. Robert Merton took up the question of multiples: Robert K. Merton, “Singletons and Multiples in Scientific Discovery: A Chapter in the Sociology of Science,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 105, no. 5 (October 13, 1961): 470–86. Merton discusses the mathematicians on page 479. the tragic story of Ernest Duchesne: My account of Duchesne’s discovery of penicillin comes from Serge Duckett, “Ernest Duchesne and the Concept of Fungal Antibiotic Therapy,” The Lancet 354 (December 11, 1999): 2068–71; Kurt Link, Understanding New, Resurgent, and Resistant Diseases: How Man and Globalization Create and Spread Illness (Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007), 13–14; Paul André, M. C. Schraefel, Jaime Teevan, and Susan T. Dumais, “Discovery Is Never by Chance: Designing for (Un)Serendipity,” Proceedings of the Seventh ACM Conference on Creativity and Cognition (2009), 305–14.

consider what happened next to Ory Okolloh: My account of the origins of Ushahidi draws from Ory Okolloh, “Update Jan 3 11:00 pm,” Kenyan Pundit, January 3, 2008, accessed March 22, 2013, www.kenyanpundit.com/2008/01/03/update-jan-3-445-1100-pm/; Erik Hersman, “It’s Not about Us, It’s about Them,” WhiteAfrican, January 4, 2008, accessed March 22, 2013, whiteafrican.com/2008/01/04/its-not-about-us-its-about-them/; Ted Greenwald, “David Kobia, 32,” MIT Technology Review, September 2010, www2.technologyreview.com/tr35/profile.aspx?trid=947; and an e-mail communication with Hersman. Three decades after Duchesne made his discovery of penicillin, Alexander Fleming in 1928: Alexander Kohn, Fortune or Failure: Missed Opportunities and Chance Discoveries (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1989), 76–96. “most of the smartest people work for someone else”: Lewis DVorkin, “Forbes Contributors Talk About Our Model for Entrepreneurial Journalism,” Forbes, December 1, 2011, accessed March 22, 2013, www.forbes.com/sites/lewisdvorkin/2011/12/01/forbes-contributors-talk-about-our-model-for-entrepreneurial-journalism/.


pages: 202 words: 62,901

The People's Republic of Walmart: How the World's Biggest Corporations Are Laying the Foundation for Socialism by Leigh Phillips, Michal Rozworski

Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, call centre, carbon footprint, central bank independence, Colonization of Mars, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, corporate raider, decarbonisation, discovery of penicillin, Elon Musk, G4S, Georg Cantor, germ theory of disease, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, hiring and firing, index fund, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, linear programming, liquidity trap, mass immigration, Mont Pelerin Society, new economy, Norbert Wiener, oil shock, passive investing, Paul Samuelson, post scarcity, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, recommendation engine, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, strikebreaker, supply-chain management, technoutopianism, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, transaction costs, Turing machine, union organizing

Prior to the advent of antibiotics, unless you had surgery, mortality from pneumonia was 30 percent, and from appendicitis or a ruptured bowel, 100 percent. Before Alexander Fleming’s serendipitous discovery of penicillin, patients with blood poisoning contracted from a mere cut or scratch filled hospitals, although doctors could do next to nothing for them. The first recipient of penicillin, forty-three-year-old Oxford police constable Albert Alexander, had scratched the side of his mouth while pruning roses. The scratches developed into a life-threatening infection, with large abscesses covering his head and affecting his lungs. One of his eyes had to be removed. The discovery of penicillin may have been made by a Scotsman, but in 1941, with much of the British chemical industry tilted toward the war effort and London’s defeat at the hands of Hitler a real possibility, it was clear that large-scale production of penicillin would have to be moved to the United States.


pages: 161 words: 37,042

Viruses: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Crawford, Dorothy H.

clean water, coronavirus, discovery of penicillin, Francisco Pizarro, hygiene hypothesis, Louis Pasteur, megacity, Nelson Mandela, stem cell

Many studies show that HIV transmission occurs most readily when the viral load in the blood is high, and since antiviral therapy can reduce this load to undetectable levels, these drugs can be used to prevent spread. Most transmission occurs in the few months following primary infection when the viral load is extremely high but when most people are unaware of their infection. More effective screening programmes of at-risk groups, including opt-out testing, would pick up these early infections and allow early treatment. Antiviral agents For almost 40 years after the discovery of penicillin in 1945, bacterial infections could be cured with the appropriate antibiotic, while most virus infections were untreatable. This contrast relates to the biological differences between bacteria and viruses and in the way they cause disease. Pathogenic bacteria are mostly free-living, single-celled organisms that can invade and multiply in the body, so causing disease. Bacteria have tough outer cell walls that are essential for their survival, and penicillin and its derivatives target these unique structures while leaving host cells unharmed.


pages: 178 words: 52,637

Quality Investing: Owning the Best Companies for the Long Term by Torkell T. Eide, Lawrence A. Cunningham, Patrick Hargreaves

air freight, Albert Einstein, backtesting, barriers to entry, buy and hold, cashless society, cloud computing, commoditize, Credit Default Swap, discounted cash flows, discovery of penicillin, endowment effect, global pandemic, haute couture, hindsight bias, low cost airline, mass affluent, Network effects, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, shareholder value, smart grid, sovereign wealth fund, supply-chain management

Exemplars include many of the investments made by Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway during the depths of the credit crisis of 2008, including extremely lucrative convertible preferred stock in General Electric (US) and Goldman Sachs, and a valuable option to acquire a sizable minority stake in Bank of America. The important lesson for investors is that the value of owning the highest quality company rises with cyclicality, as these companies tend to be better equipped to deal with it and capitalize on it. B. Technological Innovation The word innovation carries positive connotations, along with gratitude toward great inventors who have improved life, such as Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, Thomas Alva Edison’s light bulb and Robert Noyce’s integrated circuit. But, at least for capitalists, innovation is two-edged: while great improvements create new fortunes and even new industries, they often decimate others. Innovation can be such a brutal and destructive force for businesses that we often avoid industries where the risk of significant technological innovation is high.


pages: 207 words: 57,959

Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge From Small Discoveries by Peter Sims

Amazon Web Services, Black Swan, Clayton Christensen, complexity theory, David Heinemeier Hansson, deliberate practice, discovery of penicillin, endowment effect, fear of failure, Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Bilbao, Jeff Bezos, knowledge economy, lateral thinking, Lean Startup, longitudinal study, loss aversion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, PageRank, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ruby on Rails, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, theory of mind, Toyota Production System, urban planning, Wall-E

Academic, researcher, and investor Nassim Taleb’s book is an important reminder of the impact of unlikely events. It’s a thought-provoking intellectual adventure. One of the points that Taleb highlights is that, when operating within a high degree of uncertainty, one should experiment including to find what Taleb calls inadvertent discoveries. Countless innovations have happened this way, including Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, which he found in a mold that had contaminated another experiment. Thomke, Stefan. Experimentation Matters. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School, 2003. Thomke had done valuable work on business experiments, especially within technology. He focuses on industries like integrated circuits, and presents impressive research about approaches to developing ideas that are experimental in their nature, including the role of modeling and simulation technologies like CAD to aid in that process.


pages: 206 words: 70,924

The Rise of the Quants: Marschak, Sharpe, Black, Scholes and Merton by Colin Read

"Robert Solow", Albert Einstein, Bayesian statistics, Black-Scholes formula, Bretton Woods, Brownian motion, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, collateralized debt obligation, correlation coefficient, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, discovery of penicillin, discrete time, Emanuel Derman, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial innovation, fixed income, floating exchange rates, full employment, Henri Poincaré, implied volatility, index fund, Isaac Newton, John Meriwether, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, margin call, market clearing, martingale, means of production, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, Paul Samuelson, price stability, principal–agent problem, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, RAND corporation, random walk, risk tolerance, risk/return, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Sharpe ratio, short selling, stochastic process, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, The Chicago School, the scientific method, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, Works Progress Administration, yield curve

And while a PhD creates an almost unitary track to academia for economists, those with PhDs in finance more often find their way to Wall Street rather than the ivory tower. There is perhaps no better example in the decision sciences of the evolution of ideas that are so revolutionary. Certainly, Newton’s equations of motion and Leibniz’s development of calculus, and the Nobel Laureate Einstein’s Theory of Relativity in 1905 and its E ⫽ mc2 prophecy had comparable transformational potency on society and our economy. So too was the discovery of penicillin attributed to the Nobel Laureate Alexander Fleming in 1928. These innovations revolutionized pure science, engineering, or humanity itself. However, before the rise of the quants, finance or economics had known no such profound insight that truly transformed markets. No other discovery or innovation has directly generated the sort of profits and economic activity that these innovations in finance created.


pages: 218 words: 70,323

Critical: Science and Stories From the Brink of Human Life by Matt Morgan

agricultural Revolution, Atul Gawande, biofilm, Black Swan, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive dissonance, crew resource management, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Strachan, discovery of penicillin, en.wikipedia.org, hygiene hypothesis, job satisfaction, John Snow's cholera map, meta analysis, meta-analysis, personalized medicine, publication bias, randomized controlled trial, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Steve Jobs

‘In a brave series of experiments in 2014, American researchers injected the major component of Gram-negative bacteria cell walls, lipopolysaccharides, into healthy volunteers under close medical supervision.’ Dillingh, M. R. et al. Characterization of inflammation and immune cell modulation induced by low-dose LPS administration to healthy volunteers. Journal of Inflammation 11, 1697 (2014). ‘This would turn out to be the most useful mess in history.’ Diggins, F. W. The true history of the discovery of penicillin, with refutation of the misinformation in the literature. Br J Biomed Sci 56, 83–93 (1999). ‘This serendipitous mistake would save the lives of around 200 million people globally in the ninety years that followed.’ http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Alexander_Fleming ‘Anne Miller, a 33-year-old nurse from New York, became the first patient to be treated with this new drug.’ Rothman, L.


pages: 298 words: 76,727

The Microbiome Solution by Robynne Chutkan M.D.

clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, David Strachan, discovery of penicillin, epigenetics, hygiene hypothesis, Mason jar, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome

While it’s true that infectious diseases like cholera and tuberculosis still plague poorer countries, in the more developed world it’s actually the lack of germs that’s making many of us sick. As the next chapter will show, some of our “medical miracles,” when used indiscriminately, can end up contributing to, rather than curing, disease. CHAPTER 4 |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Pharmageddon and the Antibiotic Paradox THERE’S NO QUESTION that Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin in 1928 is still one of the greatest contributions to medicine. It could have prevented events like the Great Plague of the 1600s, which wiped out a quarter of the population of Europe. Antibiotics prevent death from serious infection every day, sparing the human race untold misery. But in our current climate of overdiagnosis and overtreatment, they’re also used indiscriminately for a wide variety of minor, self-limited conditions.


pages: 239 words: 77,436

Pure, White and Deadly: How Sugar Is Killing Us and What We Can Do to Stop It by John Yudkin

correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, discovery of penicillin

The chairmen of this committee have always been distinguished scientists; none has been a professional nutritionist but they have all had some contact, if sometimes rather remote, with the subject of nutrition. As I write, there have been five chairmen of this committee since the Foundation began; these have included the late Sir Charles Dodds, one of the outstanding biochemists of the time, and the late Sir Ernst Chain, who shared the Nobel Prize for the discovery of penicillin with Florey and Fleming. Both Dodds and Chain approached me while Chairman and asked why I was not on the BN F Science Committee, or indeed on any of its other committees. When I said that I had not been invited, they asked if they might suggest that I should be appointed. To this I agreed, although I guessed what the reply would be. And so it proved. Both chairmen had been told in due course that there was no question of having me in any way associated with the BNF.


pages: 314 words: 77,409

The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why It Matters by Sean B. Carroll

agricultural Revolution, British Empire, clean water, discovery of penicillin, Fellow of the Royal Society, out of africa, pattern recognition, phenotype, Skype, Thomas Malthus

See also Gorongosa National Park Mozambique Resistance Movement, 186, 197 Muagura, Pedro, 197 Mukkaw Bay, 111–115, 118–119, 121 mussels, 119, 120 mutations, genetic research and, 63–67 myc gene, 97 necessity, sufficiency and, 182 negative feedback, 67–68 negative regulation: density-dependent regulation as form of, 147–150, 198–199; overview of, 68f, 153; predation as, 164–165, 166f; starfish, mussels and, 119; wildebeest, rinderpest virus and, 140–143, 141f, 142f Ngorogoro Crater, 1–3 Nielsen, Mark, 192 Nieuwe Meer, Lake, 158 Nigeria, 206–207 Nile crocodiles, 192–193 Nobel Prizes: for discovery of allostery, 71; for discovery of penicillin, 40, 92; for discovery of virus causing cancer in chickens, 93, 96; for understanding of cholesterol regulation, 78, 87 norepinephrine, 17 Norges Pattedyr (Collett), 40–41 North East Land, 39–43 northern elephant seals, 199 Norton-Griffiths, Mike, 138–140 Novartis, 103–104 Nuttall Ornithological Club, 113 ochre starfish, 111–115, 112f, 118–120 Olduvai Gorge, 3–4 olive baboons, 161–162, 164, 165f Olympic Peninsula, 111–115, 118–119 oncogenes: cancer and, 98–100, 99f, 105; discovery of, 96–97; as drug targets, 102–104; leukemia and, 98–100; retinoblastoma and, 100–102 “One Care for Our Common Home” (Pope Francis), 203–204, 210 optimism, 211 orcas, 126 Order of the Bath, 25 oribi, 145, 145f Orwell, George, 127 otters, sea, 120–123, 124f, 126, 199 Out of Africa (film), 132 Oxford University Expeditions to Spitsbergen, 32–43, 33f Paine, Robert: on future, 203; image of, 128f; sea otters as keystone species and, 120–123; starfish as keystone species and, 111–115, 118–120; Tatoosh Island and, 119–120, 121, 127 Palmisano, John, 122 pancreas, 27 parasites, population size and, 45 Pardee, Arthur, 65 Pasteur Institute, 54, 58, 60 pathogens, 45, 137–138 Paul Lake, 171–172, 173f penicillin, 40, 81, 82, 92 Penicillium citrinum, 82–84 Penicillium fungus, 81 “Periodic Fluctuations in Numbers of Animals” (Elton), 42–43 peristalsis, 18–21 Pershing, John J., 25 pesticides, 159–161, 164, 211 pests, rice production and, 158–161, 160f, 164 Peter Lake, 171–172, 173f Peterson, Charles “Pete,” 163 Philadelphia chromosome (22), 93, 98–100, 99f phosphate fertilizers, 163 phosphate groups, protein regulation and, 98–99, 101 phosphorylation, 101 phytoplankton, 171–172, 173f pigeon pea, 197 Pingo, Mike, 192, 198 Pisaster ochraceus (ochre starfish), 111–115, 112f, 118–120 plankton, 53, 171–172, 173f, 176 planthopper, brown, 159–161, 160f, 164 Plowright, Walter, 136 poaching, 146, 195, 197 political will, social will and, 210 pollution, water supply and, 155–158 population growth: buffalo and, 134–138; fluctuations in, 42f; human, 5; wildebeest and, 136–138, 137f, 148f, 149 population size: competition and, 143–144, 150; density-dependent regulation of, 147–150, 148f; factors limiting, 45; fluctuations in, 41–43; migration and, 150–152; pesticide use in rice production and, 159–161, 164; predators and, 45, 150 positive regulation, overview of, 68f, 153 Pourquoi-Pas?


pages: 300 words: 84,762

Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases by Paul A. Offit

1960s counterculture, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, discovery of penicillin, en.wikipedia.org, germ theory of disease, Isaac Newton, life extension, Louis Pasteur, Ronald Reagan

Several years later, at the start of the Second World War, a team of researchers at Oxford University headed by Howard Florey picked up where Fleming had left off. They purified penicillin, described its physical and chemical properties, studied its effects in animals and humans, and showed how to mass-produce it, just in time to save the lives of tens of thousands of Allied soldiers. Ten years after abandoning his research on penicillin, Alexander Fleming won the Nobel Prize in medicine “for the discovery of penicillin and its curative effect in various infectious diseases.” Although our understanding of what penicillin is, how it works, and how it can be used to save lives couldn’t have happened without Howard Florey, few know his name. When people think of penicillin, they think of Alexander Fleming. The story of Fleming and Florey would be repeated with the discovery of the first substance to inhibit the growth of viruses and treat cancer.


pages: 260 words: 84,847

P53: The Gene That Cracked the Cancer Code by Sue Armstrong

Asilomar, discovery of DNA, discovery of penicillin, double helix, Kickstarter, mouse model, stem cell, trade route

HENRY HARRIS HAS THE SAME IDEA Knudson had arrived at his theory through mathematical modelling of the data before him. There was, however, more direct experimental evidence to back it up. It came from the laboratory of cancer geneticist Henry Harris, an obstinate (by his own admission) and independent-minded Australian who had been recruited in 1952 by fellow countryman Howard Florey – famous for his collaboration with Alexander Fleming in the discovery of penicillin, for which they won a Nobel Prize – to work with him at Oxford University. Talking of his move from Sydney to Oxford many years later, Harris told an interviewer, ‘I got a telephone call from Hugh Ward, the Professor of Bacteriology [at Sydney], to say that he had Florey in his office and would I like to meet him. I said, “I must be dreaming, you mean the Florey?” He said, “Yes, come on over.”


pages: 357 words: 98,854

Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology Is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease and Inheritance by Nessa Carey

Albert Einstein, British Empire, Build a better mousetrap, conceptual framework, discovery of penicillin, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, life extension, mouse model, phenotype, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), stem cell, stochastic process, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, twin studies

but ‘That’s funny ...’ Isaac Asimov There are multiple instances in science of a relatively chance event leading to a wonderful breakthrough. Probably the most famous example is Alexander Fleming’s observation that a particular mould, that had drifted by chance onto an experimental Petri dish, was able to kill the bacteria growing there. It was this random event that led to the discovery of penicillin and the development of the whole field of antibiotics. Millions of lives have been saved as a result of this apparently chance discovery. Alexander Fleming won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1945, along with Ernst Chain and Howard Florey who worked out how to make penicillin in large quantities so that it could be used to treat patients. Isaac Asimov’s famous statement at the top of this page flags up to us that Alexander Fleming wasn’t simply some fortunate man who struck lucky.


pages: 398 words: 100,679

The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch by Lewis Dartnell

agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, clean water, Dava Sobel, decarbonisation, discovery of penicillin, Dmitri Mendeleev, global village, Haber-Bosch Process, invention of movable type, invention of radio, invention of writing, iterative process, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, lone genius, low earth orbit, mass immigration, nuclear winter, off grid, Richard Feynman, technology bubble, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, trade route

By the end of 1941 Florey’s team had scaled up production to make enough penicillin for clinical trials, but they were forced by wartime shortages of equipment to improvise. Mold cultures were grown in racks of shallow bedpans and makeshift extraction equipment built using an old bathtub, trash cans, milk churns, scavenged copper piping, and doorbells, all secured in a frame made from an oak bookcase discarded by the university library—inspiration, perhaps, for the scavenging and jury-rigging necessary after the apocalypse. So while the discovery of penicillin is often portrayed as accidental and almost effortless, Fleming’s observation was only the very first step on a long road of research and development, experimentation and optimization, to extract and purify the penicillin from the “mold juice” to create a safe and reliable pharmaceutical. In the end, the United States provided the large-scale fermentation to supply enough for widespread treatment.


pages: 314 words: 101,034

Every Patient Tells a Story by Lisa Sanders

data acquisition, discovery of penicillin, high batting average, index card, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, natural language processing, pattern recognition, Pepto Bismol, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan

It’s rare, and seen most often in adolescents and young adults. Lemierre wrote up several cases of this illness, which begins with a fever and tonsillitis and progresses to a painful and often swollen neck as the infection moves into the jugular vein. Once there, the bacteria induce the formation of blood clots, which then shower the rest of the body with tiny bits of infected tissue. Before the discovery of penicillin the disease was usually fatal. The widespread use of penicillin to treat all severe sore throats during the 1960s and 1970s virtually wiped out the disease. But over the past twenty years, Lemierre’s has staged something of a comeback—an unintended consequence of a more cautious use of antibiotics and the development of new drugs—like Biaxin, which is what Tamara was given—that are easier to take but far less effective than penicillin against this potentially deadly infection.


pages: 414 words: 101,285

The Butterfly Defect: How Globalization Creates Systemic Risks, and What to Do About It by Ian Goldin, Mike Mariathasan

"Robert Solow", air freight, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, barriers to entry, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business cycle, butterfly effect, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, connected car, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deglobalization, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of penicillin, diversification, diversified portfolio, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, energy security, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Gini coefficient, global pandemic, global supply chain, global value chain, global village, income inequality, information asymmetry, Jean Tirole, John Snow's cholera map, Kenneth Rogoff, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, mass immigration, megacity, moral hazard, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, open economy, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, regulatory arbitrage, reshoring, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, Toyota Production System, trade liberalization, transaction costs, uranium enrichment

A decade later, the Health Organisation of the League of Nations, the first organization to openly embrace global governance, was eventually established in the aftermath of the First World War. These initial organizations focused on coordinating border controls and sharing information. Most early twentieth-century bodies were not explicitly concerned with influenza pandemics. Policy makers before World War II seemed to understand that their scientific knowledge and disease-fighting capability were inadequate to combat the virulence of infectious diseases. With the discovery of penicillin in 1928, however, and the creation of WHO two decades later, the international bodies raised their ambition to that of “eliminating all communicable disease at their sources.”70 WHO’s early campaigns to eradicate infectious diseases met with some success. In what was the largest-scale international health engagement in history, an army of doctors, health professionals, and willing volunteers set out to eradicate smallpox in 1968.


pages: 349 words: 98,868

Nervous States: Democracy and the Decline of Reason by William Davies

active measures, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Amazon Web Services, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, citizen journalism, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, Colonization of Mars, continuation of politics by other means, creative destruction, credit crunch, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, discovery of penicillin, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, drone strike, Elon Musk, failed state, Filter Bubble, first-past-the-post, Frank Gehry, gig economy, housing crisis, income inequality, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Johannes Kepler, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, loss aversion, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mont Pelerin Society, mutually assured destruction, Northern Rock, obamacare, Occupy movement, pattern recognition, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, planetary scale, post-industrial society, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Florida, road to serfdom, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart cities, statistical model, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, Turing machine, Uber for X, universal basic income, University of East Anglia, Valery Gerasimov, We are the 99%, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

But it is worrying that sections of the population feel unusually fearful and vulnerable, elevating questions of health, age, physical care, and physical punishment to a renewed significance in the political arena. Placed within the long arc of medical progress, there is no obvious reason why this should be the case. We currently live in an exceptional era, in which death can be avoided and postponed, and the degradations of the body are processes that can be prevented or managed to a large extent. Thanks to the discovery of penicillin in the mid-twentieth century, entire diseases have been wiped out. The invention of the contraceptive pill soon after meant that the most basic problems of human existence—the giving and the preserving of life itself—are under our conscious control in a way that is unprecedented. And yet this is not how things feel to many of us, and it is this that is generating much of the uncertainty and turbulence that we see played out in our politics.


pages: 289 words: 112,697

The new village green: living light, living local, living large by Stephen Morris

back-to-the-land, Buckminster Fuller, clean water, cleantech, collective bargaining, Columbine, Community Supported Agriculture, computer age, cuban missile crisis, deindustrialization, discovery of penicillin, distributed generation, energy security, energy transition, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, Firefox, index card, Indoor air pollution, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Kevin Kelly, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, McMansion, Menlo Park, Negawatt, off grid, peak oil, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review

We should stress, though, that medicine is descended from botany and a great many herbal remedies are still in the doctor’s kit. The drugs have been extracted or synthesized, but many owe their origins to the herbalist. You argue that herbal medicine isn’t nearly so steeped in superstition as some skeptics believe. For example, the folk remedy of applying bread mold to wounds to prevent infection dates back to long before scientific medicine and the discovery of penicillin. Just how much can homesteaders rely on folk cures today? Herbal remedies can help cure most of the simple illnesses. Nature, for instance, can regulate your bowels in either direction. Cascara bark is still used in a great many commercial laxatives, such as Ex-Lax. Most of the medicines for diarrhea are based on tannin... though the natural ones don’t have opiates added to relieve pain or quiet muscles.


pages: 433 words: 106,048

The End of Illness by David B. Agus

Danny Hillis, discovery of penicillin, double helix, epigenetics, germ theory of disease, Google Earth, impulse control, information retrieval, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, Murray Gell-Mann, pattern recognition, Pepto Bismol, personalized medicine, randomized controlled trial, risk tolerance, Steve Jobs, the scientific method

The Inescapable Statistics To understand how we’ve arrived at a place where we focus so much on DNA, and why it’s critical to respect the body as an elaborate system beyond genetics, it helps to explore the evolution of our thinking processes against the backdrop of the challenges we’ve faced—and continue to face—in our quest for health and longevity. Most of our transformative breakthroughs in medicine have occurred only recently, in the last sixty or so years. Following the discovery of penicillin in 1928, which changed the whole landscape of fighting infections based on the knowledge that they were caused by bacteria, we got good at extending our lives by several years and, in many cases, decades. This was made possible through a constellation of contributing circumstances, including a decline in cigarette smoking, changes in our diets for the better, improvements in diagnostics and medical care, and of course advancements in targeted therapies and drugs such as cholesterol-lowering statins.


pages: 372 words: 111,573

10% Human: How Your Body's Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness by Alanna Collen

Asperger Syndrome, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Berlin Wall, biofilm, clean water, correlation does not imply causation, David Strachan, discovery of penicillin, Drosophila, Fall of the Berlin Wall, friendly fire, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, hygiene hypothesis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, illegal immigration, John Snow's cholera map, Kickstarter, Louis Pasteur, Maui Hawaii, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, phenotype, placebo effect, the scientific method

Butler’s concerns about using life-saving drugs to placate mildly ill patients were based mainly around the development of antibiotic resistance. He, like many other scientists and doctors, predicts we may soon enter a post-antibiotic era much like the pre-antibiotic era, in which surgery carried a high risk of death, and minor cuts could kill. This prediction is as old as antibiotics themselves. Sir Alexander Fleming, after making his discovery of penicillin, repeatedly cautioned that using too little of it, for too short a time, or without good reason, would bring about antibiotic resistance. He was right. Time and time again, bacteria evolve resistance to antibiotics. The first penicillin-resistant bacteria were discovered just a few years after penicillin was introduced. It’s as simple as this: the susceptible bacteria die, sometimes leaving behind those that have, by chance, a mutation that makes them resistant.


Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake

biofilm, buy low sell high, carbon footprint, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, discovery of penicillin, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton, Kickstarter, late capitalism, low earth orbit, Mason jar, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, moral panic, NP-complete, phenotype, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan, the built environment, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus, traveling salesman

Fungi isolated from a contaminated environment may have already learned how to digest a given pollutant and, as locals, be able to remediate a problem and thrive. This was the approach used by a team of researchers in Pakistan who screened soil from a city landfill site in Islamabad and found a novel fungal strain that could degrade polyurethane plastic. Crowdsourcing fungal strains may sound implausible, but it has resulted in some major discoveries. The industrial production of the antibiotic penicillin was only possible because of the discovery of a high-yielding strain of Penicillium fungus. In 1941, this “pretty golden mold” was found on a rotting cantaloupe in an Illinois market by Mary Hunt, a laboratory assistant, after the lab put out a call for civilians to submit molds. Before this point, penicillin had been expensive to produce and remained largely unavailable.

Fungal effects on plant–plant interactions contribute to grassland plant abundances: evidence from the field. Journal of Ecology 104: 755–64. Bennett JA, Maherali H, Reinhart KO, Lekberg Y, Hart MM, Klironomos J. 2017. Plant-soil feedbacks and mycorrhizal type influence temperate forest population dynamics. Science 355: 181–84. Bennett JW, Chung KT. 2001. Alexander Fleming and the discovery of penicillin. Advances in Applied Microbiology 49: 163–84. Berendsen RL, Pieterse CM, Bakker PA. 2012. The rhizosphere microbiome and plant health. Trends in Plant Science 17: 478–86. Bergson H. 1911. Creative Evolution. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company. Berthold T, Centler F, Hübschmann T, Remer R, Thullner M, Harms H, Wick LY. 2016. Mycelia as a focal point for horizontal gene transfer among soil bacteria.


pages: 435 words: 134,462

The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It by Neal Bascomb, Kingfisher Editors

British Empire, discovery of penicillin, first-past-the-post, glass ceiling

He lived a self-described “chaotic” existence, cooking for himself (usually a quick meat stew as well as pickled herring for protein) and trying to find spare moments for laundry and the like before heading to St. Mary’s Hospital near Paddington Station. Originally founded in 1845 to serve the impoverished “Stinking Paddington” area, St. Mary’s had evolved into one of England’s finest medical schools and research facilities, noted most famously for Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin. To study at the small teaching hospital, Bannister had won the scholarship established by Lord Moran, a decorated medical officer in World War I who later served as Winston Churchill’s doctor. While dean of the school, Moran was known for recruiting amateur athletes because he believed that sport teaches character and makes for good doctors. In the middle of interviews with prospective medical students Moran would bend down below his desk and retrieve a rugby ball, which he then threw at his interviewee.


pages: 237 words: 50,758

Obliquity: Why Our Goals Are Best Achieved Indirectly by John Kay

Andrew Wiles, Asian financial crisis, Berlin Wall, bonus culture, British Empire, business process, Cass Sunstein, computer age, corporate raider, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, discounted cash flows, discovery of penicillin, diversification, Donald Trump, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, invention of the telephone, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, lateral thinking, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Pasteur, market fundamentalism, Myron Scholes, Nash equilibrium, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, regulatory arbitrage, shareholder value, Simon Singh, Steve Jobs, Thales of Miletus, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, ultimatum game, urban planning, value at risk

The nineteenth-century French scientist Louis Pasteur made numerous important scientific discoveries, including that of immunization based on artificial tissue cultures. His method of discovery was oblique: Pasteur observed the effect when a botched experiment by his assistant produced unexpected results. That fortunate accident anticipated the similar obliquity of the most important of all pharmacological discoveries, that of penicillin. Pasteur’s pioneering innovation was not even an intermediate goal. The invention of immunization was a means of realizing the high-level objective—the advance of scientific knowledge—that was made possible by an open process of experiment and adaptation. “Fortune,” Pasteur observed, “favors the prepared mind.”10 PART TWO The Need for Obliquity: Why We Often Can’t Solve Problems Directly Chapter 7 MUDDLING THROUGH—Why Oblique Approaches Succeed In 1959, Charles Lindblom described “the science of muddling through.”


pages: 492 words: 149,259

Big Bang by Simon Singh

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Andrew Wiles, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Astronomia nova, Brownian motion, carbon-based life, Cepheid variable, Chance favours the prepared mind, Commentariolus, Copley Medal, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Defenestration of Prague, discovery of penicillin, Dmitri Mendeleev, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, Erwin Freundlich, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, Hans Lippershey, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Henri Poincaré, horn antenna, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, Index librorum prohibitorum, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Karl Jansky, Kickstarter, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Murray Gell-Mann, music of the spheres, Olbers’ paradox, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Paul Erdős, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, scientific mainstream, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, unbiased observer, Wilhelm Olbers, William of Occam

Walpole also highlighted this in his original letter when he described serendipity as the result of ‘accidents and sagacity’. Furthermore, those who want to be touched by serendipity must be ready to embrace an opportunity when it presents itself, rather than merely brushing down their seed-covered trousers, pouring their failed superglue down the sink or abandoning a failed medical trial. Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin depended on a speck of penicillium mould floating in through the window, landing in a petri dish and killing off a bacterial culture. It is highly likely that many microbiologists had previously had their bacterial cultures contaminated by penicillium mould, but they had all discarded their petri dishes in frustration instead of seeing the opportunity to discover an antibiotic that would save millions of lives.


pages: 670 words: 169,815

Ghosts of Empire: Britain's Legacies in the Modern World by Kwasi Kwarteng

Ayatollah Khomeini, banking crisis, British Empire, colonial rule, Corn Laws, corporate governance, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of penicillin, Etonian, illegal immigration, imperial preference, invisible hand, Khartoum Gordon, land reform, sceptred isle, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, trade route, urban planning, Yom Kippur War

Unusually for their class and for the time, the boys, first under their father and later abroad, had a modern education, learning Mathematics, History, French and German, instead of Latin and Greek.4 A defining moment in the life of the young family came in 1863, when Frances Kitchener’s tuberculosis worsened and the doctors concluded that the damp conditions of south-west Ireland would never allow her to recover. The Colonel, with characteristic decisiveness, sold the estate and moved the family to Switzerland, which the doctors had recommended for its mountain air. This was a common prescription for tubercular and bronchial diseases in an age before the discovery of penicillin. The Kitchener family soon settled in the little spa town of Bex and the boys started attending a French school near Geneva. The move to Bex failed to improve Frances Kitchener’s health, and, in a desperate final attempt to remedy her condition, the family moved once again to Montreux, a town on the north-east shore of Lake Geneva, where a colony of British invalids and retired officers could be found.


pages: 667 words: 186,968

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry

Albert Einstein, Brownian motion, centralized clearinghouse, conceptual framework, coronavirus, discovery of penicillin, double helix, Fellow of the Royal Society, germ theory of disease, index card, Louis Pasteur, Marshall McLuhan, Mason jar, means of production, statistical model, the medium is the message, the scientific method, traveling salesman, women in the workforce

Therefore the disease was, he concluded, “not influenza.” CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE LABORATORIES EVERYWHERE had turned to influenza. Pasteur’s protégé Émile Roux, one of those who had raced German competitors for a diphtheria antitoxin, directed the work at the Pasteur Institute. In Britain virtually everyone in Almroth Wright’s laboratory worked on it, including Alexander Fleming, whose later discovery of penicillin he first applied to research on Pfeiffer’s so-called influenza bacillus. In Germany, in Italy, even in revolution-torn Russia, desperate investigators searched for an answer. But by the fall of 1918 these laboratories could function only on a far-reduced scale. Research had been cut back and focused on war, on poison gas or defending against it, on preventing infection of wounds, on ways to prevent diseases that incapacitated troops such as “trench fever,” an infection related to typhus that was not serious in itself but had taken more troops out of the line any other disease.


pages: 1,294 words: 210,361

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Barry Marshall: ulcers, conceptual framework, discovery of penicillin, experimental subject, iterative process, Joan Didion, life extension, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, New Journalism, phenotype, randomized controlled trial, Robert Mercer, scientific mainstream, Silicon Valley, social web, statistical model, stem cell, women in the workforce, Year of Magical Thinking, éminence grise

In 1997, the NCI director, Richard Klausner, responding to reports that cancer mortality had remained disappointingly static through the nineties, argued that the medical realities of one decade had little bearing on the realities of the next. “There are far more good historians than there are good prophets,” Klausner wrote. “It is extraordinarily difficult to predict scientific discovery, which is often propelled by seminal insights coming from unexpected directions. The classic example—Fleming’s discovery of penicillin on moldy bread and the monumental impact of that accidental finding—could not easily have been predicted, nor could the sudden demise of iron-lung technology when evolving techniques in virology allowed the growth of poliovirus and the preparation of vaccine. Any extrapolation of history into the future presupposes an environment of static discovery—an oxymoron.” In a limited sense, Klausner is right.


Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health by Laurie Garrett

accounting loophole / creative accounting, airport security, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, biofilm, clean water, collective bargaining, desegregation, discovery of DNA, discovery of penicillin, Drosophila, employer provided health coverage, Fall of the Berlin Wall, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, Induced demand, John Snow's cholera map, Jones Act, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, mass incarceration, Maui Hawaii, means of production, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mouse model, Nelson Mandela, new economy, nuclear winter, phenotype, profit motive, Project Plowshare, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, sexual politics, Silicon Valley, stem cell, the scientific method, urban decay, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration, yellow journalism

Abbott, Mary, 453 Abdullah, Prince, 490 abortions, 136–37, 224, 247, 298, 380, 419 acid rain, 154, 162 Adelman, Kenneth, 496 Afghanistan, Soviet war with, 172, 176–77, 181, 186 Africa AIDS in, 58, 474, 563, 578–80 bushmeat trade in, 109–10, 606 disease surveillance lacking in, 104 insurmountable problems in, 121 nationalism in, 56 natural resources of, 109, 111, 121, 598–99 rain forest in, 59–60, 100–102, 103, 105, 108–9 wealthy nations uninterested in, 104–5 see also specific nations aging and herd immunity, 559 and mental health, 573 of U.S. population, 322, 344, 377–78, 484 of world population, 558–60, 573, 747 Agnes, Sister, 71–72 AIDS ACT UP and, 474 in Africa, 58, 474, 563, 578–80 cryptococcus and, 279 in India, 47, 580 search for a cure, 581 and TB, 193–94 see also HIV Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), 344, 384, 385, 388 Akhmatova, Anna, 621–22 Albright, Madeleine, 111 alcoholism child abuse and abandonment, 139–42 in former Soviet Union, 124, 127, 129, 131, 135–43, 202, 212, 216, 254, 257 homelessness and, 135, 140 Native Americans and, 386 Prohibition and, 305–6 Alexander, Father, 139–40 Alfimov, Michael, 253 Alibekov, Kanatjan (Ken Alibek), 513–14, 519, 521–22, 738–39 America, see United States American Medical Association (AMA), 276, 291, 312, 316, 318, 324, 328, 342, 345, 364–67, 378–79, 567, 665, 675 American Public Health Association, 303, 339, 342, 351–52, 365, 555 Andropov, Yuri, 123, 246 Annas, George, 573 anthrax kill method of, 527 vaccine, 299, 523–25, 532 weaponized, 491, 496, 499, 500, 502–4, 512, 520–22, 523, 532–33, 736 antibiotics black market in, 58, 125, 181, 189, 229 child deaths and, 619 discovery of penicillin, 325–26 in livestock, 467–69, 722 microbes resistant to, 32, 53, 179–82, 193, 195, 196, 229, 237, 239–40, 242, 265, 271–81, 327, 458, 467, 468–69, 471, 472, 484, 520, 534, 577–78, 588, 719 plague and, 21, 31, 32, 34–35, 40–41, 44, 45, 595 antibiotics (continued) postantibiotic era in, 271 self-medication and misuse of, 181, 183, 192–93, 229, 240, 276, 467–68, 573 STDs and, 228–29, 326, 353 TB and, 188–90, 193, 194, 196, 201, 326 antibodies, monoclonal, 280 antiseptics, discovery of, 295 antisera, 279–80 Anti-Terrorism Act (1996), 545 antitoxins, discovery of, 295 Aphanasiev, Viktor, 199–200 Appel, Willa, 280 Arafat, Yasir, 490 Asahara, Shoko, 495 Asia economy of, 554, 561 HIV and, 580 influenza from, 370–71, 684 asthma, 161, 163 Asvall, Jo, 172 Aum Shinrikyo, 495–96, 497, 499, 528, 541, 733 autoclaves, 274 Axelrod, David, 407 Baavsky, Grigory, 213–14 bacteria, weaponized, 491–93, 498–99, 501–3, 519–21, 522–23 Baltimore, David, 569 Balzhirov, Blair, 192 Barabanov, Leonid, 235 Barakanfitiye, Deo, 99 Baumgartner, Leona, 332, 339–41, 342, 347, 356, 370, 673 Belgian Congo, see Zaire Bellamy, Carol, 214 Bem, Pavel, 214–15 Berezovsky, Boris, 168 Berkelman, Ruth, 37, 601 Berlin Wall, fall of, 227, 251, 442, 554 Bernard, Kenneth, 731 Biggs, Hermann, 11–12, 276, 279, 293, 296–301, 302, 307, 315, 335, 345, 370, 421, 425 Biological Weapons Convention, 492, 497, 503, 514 Biopreparat, 492–94, 510–20, 521–22 biotechnology, discoveries in, 525–27, 568–70 biowarfare, 486–550 antiwar demonstrations and, 500–1 Cold War and, 500 Congress and, 45, 545, 547 Gulf War and, 523 in Japan, 495–96 law enforcement agencies and, 536–40, 546–48 in Middle East, 489, 497–99, 501–3, 523, 734 public health and, 488–89, 494–95, 504–7, 527–43, 546–50 rogue nations and, 490–91, 496, 503, 529 terrorists and, 488, 490, 495–97, 501–2, 508, 528–29, 532–41, 546 transparency in, 735–36 U.S. debates on, 505–10 in World War I, 499 in World War II, 499–500 bioweapons, 486–550 CDC and, 488, 492, 495, 515, 518, 530–32, 535 destruction of, 492, 501 detection devices for, 545 difficulty of development of, 494, 495, 500–1, 742 dual use of, 522 as future proliferation concern, 503–4, 742 genetic engineering of, 520–21, 526–27 in international arms market, 494 Internet and, 522, 524, 543–44 manmade superbugs, 491, 511, 520–21, 526, 528 nations possessing, 526 selected ethnic targets of, 526, 528 Soviet, 488, 492–94, 496, 504–5, 510–22 U.S. militants and fanatics with, 488, 543–45 U.S. stockpiles of, 500, 501 vaccines for, 508, 509, 523–25, 530–32, see also specific germs birth control pill, 361–62 Black Death (plague), 283, 551–52 Blair, Tony, 736 Blau, Sheldon, 280–81 blood supply donors screened for, 220, 403 from health-care workers, 222 infections from, 206, 220, 403, 697–98 privacy and, 405 B’nai B’rith headquarters, 538–39 Bocharov, Evgeny, 221–22 Boesch, Cristophe, 100 Bogdonov, Mikhail, 146 Bompenda, Lonyangela, 54, 87, 97 Bonnet, Marie-Jo, 68–70, 90 Borodai, Alexander, 160 botulinum toxin, weaponized, 499, 501, 506, 543, 545 botulism toxin, weaponized, 496, 499, 522, 545 Bourganskaia, Elena, 238, 243, 252–53 Boyko, Tatyana, 150, 221, 242 Brazil, HIV and, 581 Brezhnev, Leonid, 122–23, 246, 492 Briko, Nikolay, 235 bronchitis, 161 brucella, weaponized, 532 Bruckova, Marie, 219 Brundtland, Gro Harlem, 6, 563, 586 bubonic plague, 20–24, 26, 35–36, 41–42, 44 Bumgarner, Richard, 194 Burkitt, Denis, 392–93, 395 Bush, George, 407–9, 412–14, 416, 419, 421, 427, 429, 438, 497, 512, 514, 700 bushmeat consumption, 109–10, 606 Butler, Richard, 502 Calain, Philipe, 82, 84, 86 Califano, Joseph, 379 California air quality in, 320–22 antivaccine movement in, 301, 303 Great Depression and, 311–14 HIV in, 479–82, 580 immigrants in, 5–6, 381, 448–50, 665 Medi-Cal in, 351–52, 383, 392, 401 plague in, 314 population in, 320 Proposition 13 in, 380–82, 392, 716 unemployment in, 441–42 see also Los Angeles County Californios, 654 Cameron, Neil, 103, 605 Cameroon, 100, 108, 109 Campbell, Grant, 37 Campbell, James K., 528, 534 cancer causes of, 11, 144–45, 150–51, 322 Chernobyl and, 144–48, 150–52 Delaney Clause and, 359–60 drug-resistant, 279, 393 industrial waste and, 155, 159, 161 lifestyle and, 393–97, 485 mortality impact of, 340 no safe limit for, 359 research on, 319, 567–68 smoking and, 355–58 War on Cancer, 363, 393 cardiovascular disease, see heart disease Carnegie, Andrew, 303 Carson, Rachel, 354 Carter, Alvin, 538–39 Carter, Jimmy, 370, 373–79, 685 CDC (U.S.


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The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance by Laurie Garrett

Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, biofilm, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, clean water, correlation does not imply causation, discovery of penicillin, double helix, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, global village, indoor plumbing, invention of air conditioning, John Snow's cholera map, land reform, Live Aid, Louis Pasteur, Marshall McLuhan, mass incarceration, megacity, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, New Urbanism, phenotype, price mechanism, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, South China Sea, the scientific method, trade route, transfer pricing, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Zimmermann PGP

On mobile plasmids that could be passed from one H. ducreyi to another were genes that made the microbes resistant to ampicillin, sulfonamides, chloramphenicol, and tetracyclines. As a result, treatment of chancroid would, by the mid-1980s, be difficult.25 In 1982 H. H. Handsfield focused on why U.S. medicine had been so slow to deal with this rise in all sexually transmitted diseases: … following World War II and the discovery of penicillin, many doctors and public health authorities believed that syphilis and gonorrhea, then the most important known forms of sexually transmitted diseases in the United States, would shortly be all but abolished. It was widely felt, therefore, that the problem could be safely left to public venereal disease clinics. Many private physicians were quite content with this approach, since it more or less absolved them of having to deal with diseases widely considered “not nice” and which confronted the doctor with the difficult and often delicate problem of contact tracing.


pages: 428 words: 121,717

Warnings by Richard A. Clarke

active measures, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anti-communist, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, Bernie Madoff, cognitive bias, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, discovery of penicillin, double helix, Elon Musk, failed state, financial thriller, fixed income, Flash crash, forensic accounting, friendly AI, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge worker, Maui Hawaii, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, money market fund, mouse model, Nate Silver, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, Ponzi scheme, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart grid, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Stuxnet, technological singularity, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Tunguska event, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, Y2K

In the 1980s, Senator Jesse Helms called for “quarantine of those infected.” Dana Bash and Evan Glass, “Huckabee Refuses to Retract ’92 Remarks on AIDS Patients,” CNN, Dec. 10, 2007, www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/10/huckabee.aids (accessed Oct. 8, 2016); and Jim Morrison, “HIV Quarantines? They Already Exist, Advocate, May 15, 2013, www.advocate.com/commentary/2013/05/15/op-ed-hiv-quarantines-they-already-exist (accessed Oct. 8, 2016). 11. “Discovery and Development of Penicillin,” American Chemical Society, https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/whatischemistry/landmarks/flemingpenicillin.html. 12. While human misuse of antibiotics is certainly one cause of antibiotic resistance, there is a complex interplay of reasons. To take just one example, 80 percent of antibiotics are used on farm animals to increase growth. 13. World Health Organization, Antimicrobial Resistance: Global Report on Surveillance (Geneva: WHO, 2014), http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/112642/1/9789241564748_eng.pdf?


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The Great Halifax Explosion: A World War I Story of Treachery, Tragedy, and Extraordinary Heroism by John U. Bacon

British Empire, California gold rush, clean water, discovery of penicillin, housing crisis, index card, Louis Pasteur, mass immigration, transcontinental railway, yellow journalism


pages: 1,104 words: 302,176

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World) by Robert J. Gordon

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, airport security, Apple II, barriers to entry, big-box store, blue-collar work, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, creative destruction, deindustrialization, Detroit bankruptcy, discovery of penicillin, Donner party, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, feminist movement, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, glass ceiling, high net worth, housing crisis, immigration reform, impulse control, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of the sewing machine, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, Loma Prieta earthquake, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market fragmentation, Mason jar, mass immigration, mass incarceration, McMansion, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, occupational segregation, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, payday loans, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, rent control, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Coase, school choice, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, undersea cable, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, washing machines reduced drudgery, Washington Consensus, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration, yellow journalism, yield management

Before 1940, there were not many effective drugs, and those that were marketed dealt with surface symptoms without effectiveness in curing underlying conditions. In that era, pharmacists actually compounded the ingredients of drugs, instead of merely reselling drugs manufactured by large pharmaceutical firms. Trial and error by consumers had more effect on purchase decisions than any influence of government regulation.60 The rate of discovery of effective pharmaceutical drugs increased rapidly after the 1935 discovery of sulfonamide drugs and penicillin during World War II. Because most of the effects of this acceleration were felt after 1940, it is treated in chapter 14. The regulatory environment was radically changed by the successor to the 1906 food and drug legislation, which was passed in 1938 after years of debate. The first important change was the requirement that the FDA approve the introduction of newly developed drugs.

The first antibiotic, penicillin was versatile enough to cure “almost instantly such diseases as pneumonia, rheumatic fever, and syphilis, which had been greatly feared and often fatal.”14 Indeed, cases of syphilis, which occurred at a rate of 372 per 100,000 people in 1938, had fallen to 154.2 by 1950 and to sixty-eight in 1960, a testament to the antibiotic’s ability to kill the infection before it spread.15 Pneumonia, previously called the “Captain of the Men of Death,” was now easily curable, and by 1954 it caused only a quarter as many deaths of children ages 1–4 as in 1939. The effect on rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease was even greater, with the death rate falling 90 percent between 1940 and 1960.16 The discovery and subsequent development of penicillin came about largely by accident when, one night in 1928, the Englishman Alexander Fleming discovered a large patch of mold surrounded by a sterile ring on a dirty dish that had been left out for weeks. After finding that the mold had killed the growth of some types of bacteria, Fleming began experimenting to uncover the antibacterial feature of the mold. What started as an investigation in a small laboratory would by World War II become a large, coordinated, interdisciplinary team effort subsidized by the U.S. government.17 This effort marked the birth of large-scale drug research and development that would grow in size and complexity in the following decades.