Sunday, September 27, 2015

Natural 'Pen' proof small science beautiful

If small science is beautiful and bountiful then no smaller (or better) example exists then the tiny penicillium factories that produced penicillin when the biggest factories of Man could not

In the Fall of 1940, Dr Henry Dawson set out to embarrass the Allies to actually do something concrete to match their high sounding (but actually empty) Atlantic Charter style rhetoric about protecting the rights of the small in the war against Big Evil.

So he deliberately recruited some very small (and very overlooked) individuals into his "Big Tent Coalition of All the Talents" that came to be the other Manhattan Project.
Dawson specifically went out of his way to go to the bottom, not the top, of the hospital patient pecking order when he asked some young Black and Jewish patients dying of SBE if they wished to volunteer to form his pioneering clinical trial of the world's first systemic antibiotic.

Systemic but not synthetic antibiotic.

For on October 16th 1940, he deliberately chose to snub received scientific opinion and instead inject natural raw penicillin into this pair of nobodies.

Penicillin that was also made by nobodies : some of the smallest, most despised but also most sophisticated chemical scientists in the world : individual penicillium 'fungoid growth' cells.

Each one a complete chemical plant but each also so tiny that they are best seen with electron microscopes.

Millions and ultimately billions of us in the biggest, richest and most sophisticated civilizations have benefitted greatly ever since from these efforts of the small individuals who were so despised and overlooked by the Big back then.

I can't help but feel that that was the ironic point intended by Dr Dawson...

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