Determined not to 'lose face' and let down their side by being upstaged by native life-saving penicillin, for twenty long years (1928-1948) imperial Anglo-European medical science chased the mirage of synthetic (civilized-man-made) penicillin.
In fact, put this quest well above their real task - of saving lives.
Even during WWII.
A fracking disgrace.
But they never could make commercial synthetic penicillin (we still can't) and so almost all our antibiotics still begin with fungus-grown native penicillin.
Imagine that : the smallest and stupidest beings could make a miraculous lifesaving balm, when the smartest beings in the universe couldn't.
This surprising turn of events helped upend all our long cherished delusions about the natural order of progress and intelligence.
This held that intelligence, however defined, rose inevitably from virtually none at all among the oldest, smallest and stupidest right up to the newest, biggest and smartest beings in the universe : the civilized scientists who gave us Napalm, Plutonium and Zyklon-B.
And speaking of Zyklon-B, these same globally held views on a vertical ladder of intelligence and worthiness rising from the small to the great, is what justified (in their minds) the killings of all those with 'lives unworthy of life' by the Nazis.
No wonder then that ours, today, is a post-Modern, post-Progress age ...