The End of Smallpox

Lead: The last known case of naturally occurring smallpox in the world was reported in Somalia in 1977. Edward Jenner would have been pleased.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Smallpox, or variola, has been one of the most feared diseases in history. This viral infection with its weeping, scarring pustules, by the 1700s was claiming one out of three urban children during epidemics. It was transmitted through the air so it was not necessarily a disease of poverty or poor sanitation and its victims included the great as well as the humble. From the poorest farm child to Peter the Great of Russia, from the town crier to Queen Elizabeth I.

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Marie Sklodowska Curie

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.

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The 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.

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Plastics II

Lead: Born of wartime calculation, the manufacturers of plastics, an outgrowth of the chemical industry, sought peacetime application for military discoveries.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Rubber is a polymer, naturally occurring molecule, chemically composed of a string of smaller molecules called monomers. It was first put to practical use in the 1700s by chemist Joseph Priestly who discovered that it could rub pencil marks off paper, hence the name rubber. By World War I, however, rubber was far more than a school supply. It had countless uses particularly in wartime applications, but the sources for rubber were in Allied hands, therefore German chemists developed a synthetic rubber from acetone. The search for a synthetic rubber led some chemical companies to seek other uses for man made polymers.

 

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Plastics

Lead: Reviled by some as artificial, suspected of structural weakness, and denigrated by purists, plastics, nevertheless, have fashioned one of the most important revolutions in the modern era.

 Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Quote from The Graduate

                           

                                “Ben, I have just one word for you, one word,”

                                “What’s that?”

                                “Plastics.”

 

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Birth of the FAX

Lead: In one of its earliest forms, the facsimile, known today as the FAX, was an experimental newspaper, delivered by high frequency radio broadcasts.

Intro. : A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: By the 1920s, radio transmission of newspaper photos was a regular part of print journalism, but the process was of restricted value because it made use of expensive photographic paper that had to be chemically developed. One inventor, a transplanted Brit, William George Harold Finch, wanted to take the idea a step further. He developed a process that used radio waves to transmit written words and pictures to a home receiver similar to an AM radio. The printer was very slow and produced results that were rather crude by current standards, but the idea was so intriguing that several big-city newspaper papers, such as the St. Louis Times-Dispatch, began experimenting with Finch’s equipment and that of his rival John Hogan. Perhaps this was a defensive tactic. Newspapers were a print medium and their publishers had convinced themselves that radio and its infant cousin, television, were too transitory to be satisfactory. They believed that people wanted their news in tangible form.

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Marconi’s First Transatlantic Transmission

Lead: At the end of 1901, twenty-seven year old Guglielmo Marconi made the first transatlantic wireless transmission, but his outstanding achievement, like so many of the breakthroughs of science, built on the discoveries of others.

 Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: For generations prior to Marconi’s historic transmission, science had known that electrical current emanating from telegraph wires could excite or energize metallic objects at not-inconsiderable distances. This phenomenon was given theoretical credence in an 1865 essay by English physicist, James Clerk Maxwell, who posited that electrical impulses travel through space in waves in a manner quite similar to light waves and at the same speed. In the 1880s German scientist Heinrich Hertz proved that electrical current could be manipulated and transmitted at will between non-connected objects through a special medium he called the ether.

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Science Matters: Marconi’s First Transatlantic Transmission

Lead: At the end of 1901, twenty-seven year old Guglielmo Marconi made the first transatlantic wireless transmission, but his outstanding achievement, like so many of the breakthroughs of science, built on the discoveries of others.

 Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: For generations prior to Marconi’s historic transmission, science had known that electrical current emanating from telegraph wires could excite or energize metallic objects at not-inconsiderable distances. This phenomenon was given theoretical credence in an 1865 essay by English physicist, James Clerk Maxwell, who posited that electrical impulses travel through space in waves in a manner quite similar to light waves and at the same speed. In the 1880s German scientist Heinrich Hertz proved that electrical current could be manipulated and transmitted at will between non-connected objects through a special medium he called the ether.

Read more →