Category Archives: History of science or medicine

LOSS of muscular energy was one of the earliest symptoms,” wrote Dr Jamieson, “and convalescents have been more struck by their astonishing lack of strength than by anything else.” He noted sluggish pulses and instances of “mental aberration” persisting far into convalescence. For some the aberration took the form of delirium, for others apathy and depression…

This article first appeared in New Statesman on 8 October 2020. To continue reading, click here.

The flawed brilliance of J.B.S. Haldane

TOWARDS the end of his life, J.B.S. Haldane was inseparable from a pebble that had been found in the Valley of Elah in Israel, where David felled Goliath with a similar projectile. A king-size man who towered over British biology for several decades in the middle of the 20th century, Jack Haldane—the “half-Dane”—was a more obvious Goliath, but he always took the side of the underdog…

Haldane in Spain during the civil war

This story first appeared in The Economist  on 18 July 2020. To continue reading, click here.

 

 

God’s perfume

IN THE EARLY 1990s, the then Mayor of Versailles, André Damien, discovered a folded paper in the drawer of an antique desk he had just bought at auction. When he opened the paper up, he saw that it had written on it a formula for what seemed to be a perfume, so he took it to Jean Kerléo, the founder of the Osmothèque – the world’s only conservatory of perfumes, which is also located in Versailles…

This article first appeared in British Vogue online on 13 April 2020. To continue reading, click here.

Scientists make ethical decisions too

SOMETIMES the parallels between this pandemic and previous ones are uncanny.

Take hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug that regulatory agencies all over the world are now hastily authorising for the treatment of hospitalised Covid-19 patients. Outside hospitals, Donald Trump and the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, have expressed enthusiasm for the drug, people are breaking social distancing rules to get it, and there have been cases of poisoning due to inappropriate self-medication…

Didier Raoult

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 5 April 2020. To continue reading, click here.