First Human Heart Transplantation I

Lead: In December 1967, surgeons in South Africa performed the first human heart transplant. 53-year-old Lewis Washkansky survived for 18 days.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The work of Dr. Christiaan Barnard in transplanting the heart of 25-year-old auto accident victim Denise Durvall into Washkansky built on more than two centuries of experimentation in immunology and surgery. This progress was enhanced by the late 19th-century work on antibodies by Paul Ehrlich, the blood typing research of Karl Landsteiner in 1900, and Ilya Metchnikoff’s theory of host rejection.

First Human Heart Transplantation II

Lead: Building on two centuries of research and experimentation, South African Dr. Christaan Barnard performed the first heart transplant.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Though he was the first surgeon to successfully transplant a human heart, Dr. Barnard was using a technique developed by an American team at Stanford University Medical Center, led by surgeon Norman Shumway, who was considered by many to be the father of heart transplantation. In 1958 Shumway had transplanted the first heart in a dog. He and his associates had spent most of the early 1960s developing heart-lung machines and progressively removing the obstacles to organ transplantation. By the middle of the decade only the issue of immunosuppression seemed to be blocking the way. The body of the patient had a natural tendency to reject donor tissue as an alien to be destroyed.

History’s Turning Points: The End of Chastity II

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. Consider one of history’s turning points – conspirators in the death of chastity.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In his 1960 novel Where the Boys Are, Clendon Swarthout mused that “virginity was not all that important…nor do I think a girl’s misplacing it somewhere is as catastrophic as the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” Perhaps not, but for thousands of years prior, chastity was very important, for families, for religious institutions, for dynastic security. Men might not have to maintain theirs, a classic double standard, but much energy was expended to make sure that females were chaste. Yet, within just a few short decades, it just went away, something considered so precious in previous generations was abandoned with a near careless lack of restraint.

History’s Turning Points: The End of Chastity I

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. Consider one of history’s great social turning points – the death of chastity.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The expectation that a woman had to remain chaste, a virgin, until marriage or at least until engagement, had been around for millennia. The purpose of sex had been to make babies, propagate the species, extend the family, and in that process women were seen to play the essential role, the depository of the seed of life. It was thought that female chastity was essential. That the other half of the population, the male half, was not expected to maintain quite the same level of virtuous existence became increasingly seen as a double-standard in the modern era. Suddenly women had an ally, a tiny chemical wafer – the Pill - that helped redress an ancient gender imbalance. Now the act of sex could be severed from procreation. The rules governing chastity were being repealed. The invention and wide availability of the Pill sat upon one of history’s great turning points.

Fritz Haber and the Double-edged Sword of Synthetic Nitrogen II

Lead: In the early 20th century German chemist Fritz Haber developed the process leading to the creation of synthetic nitrogen. His brilliant innovation, however, is very much a double-edged sword.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After his initial breakthrough for which he received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1918, Haber was made the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry in Berlin. With the outbreak of World War I, he led in the development of poison gas. His motives appear to be mixed, partly emerging out of intense German patriotism, but also in hopes that the use of gas would hasten the end of the bloodletting. He returned home greatly disappointed in the war’s result, but also conflicted over his own role in the use of chemical weapons. Haber’s wife committed suicide shortly thereafter, it is said partly in revulsion over her husband’s complicity in the wartime carnage. After the Nazi takeover in 1933, as an ethnic Jew, he saw that even his long-time loyal service to Germany would not protect him against the coming barbarity and accepted a post in Cambridge, England. He died in obscurity in 1934.

 

Fritz Haber and the Double-Edged Sword of Synthetic Nitrogen I

Lead: By 1900 world population was beginning to outstrip agricultural capacity. Farmers could not grow enough to feed the people. Then Fritz Haber solved the nitrogen problem.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The three main nutrients required for successfully growing plants are potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen. Good top soil contains them in sufficient amounts to grow crops, but after long use, soil becomes depleted of these ingredients and must be renewed. Potassium and phosphorus are economically available in sufficient quantities to be put back easily, but nitrogen is not. Nitrogen is in the air. It is a gas that is a large part of the atmosphere. Getting it into the soil for plant synthesis is very difficult. Traditional farmers added plant clippings and animal waste, rotated crops or planted legumes such as beans or lintels, so-called green manure, to restore the soil and increase yields. Traditional agriculture could not keep up with an exploding world population. Farmers were losing the battle.

 

Descartes

Lead: Considered by many to be the seminal modern thinker, René Descartes remains an integral part of the philosophical canon.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Born in 1596, the year of the Declaration of Nantes with which French King Henry IV laid the foundation of religious toleration in Europe, Descartes’ work came to symbolize a philosophical break with the way in which people fundamentally organized intelligence and considered the universe.

 

 

Marie Sklodowska Curie II

Lead: Winner of two Nobel prizes, the French physicist Marie Curie, born Maria Sklodowska near Warsaw, Poland, helped advance the understanding of radioactive substances.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Learning was a lifetime passion for Marie Curie. Her parents lived and taught in a private school and as a child she demonstrated a remarkable memory in academic matters but hers was not a purely abstract scholarship. During Maria's childhood, her native Poland could not be found on the maps of eastern Europe. For centuries Polish territory had been parceled out to hostile neighbors and in 1863, due to an abortive revolt, Poland had become little more than a Russian province. The Polish language was suppressed. As a teenager she took part in the secret nationalist "free university" where she taught the Polish language to women workers.