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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Mold That Made History
6 August 1998 7:00 pm
Today is the birthday of Alexander Fleming, a Scottish bacteriologist born in 1881 who accidentally discovered the antibiotic penicillin, one of the most important medicines of the 20th century. A strange and rare mold, Penicillium notatum, happened to be floating around in Fleming's lab because another researcher was studying it. Luckily, Fleming had the untidy habit of keeping his bacterial plates longer than usual, and when he returned from a weeklong vacation in 1928, he discovered the mold growth. He determined that a compound produced by the mold, which he called penicillin, could kill pathogenic bacteria but not white blood cells or human tissue. The finding lay dormant until 1940, when chemists Ernst Chain and Howard Florey isolated, purified, and tested the antibiotic in clinical trials. Fleming, Chain, and Florey were subsequently awarded the 1945 Nobel Prize in medicine.
[Source: Emily McMurray, Ed. Notable Twentieth Century Scientists (Gale Research Inc., ITP, 1995).]