The Past

Much of what we take for granted today was once impossible, and found in the rarest of people and places.

The 1-in-a-Billion Case of Penicillin

You've heard the story, no doubt. But it's worth repeating because it illustrates how accidents--or messes, in this case--can lead to remarkable leaps into what has been previously...IMPOSSIBLE. Dr. Alexander Fleming of St. Mary’s Hospital, London, returned to his...

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The Accidental Discovery of Teflon

Used as a coating for non-stick pans, in carpets and furniture as a stain repellant, as a coating on glasses, in various hair products and as an automotive lubricant (you can see the similarities!), in igniters for solid-fuel rocket propellants and in infrared decoy...

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The Curious Case of Phineas Gage

Have you heard the curious story of Phineas Gage? In 1848 he was the foreman for a railroad construction company in Vermont. As was wont to happen more often than not in those days, there as an unexpected explosion while clearing the way for the tracks. Imagine this:...

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Gene Mutations Reveal Cause of High Blood Pressure

You or someone you know probably has high blood pressure. Also known as hypertension, this condition affects 1 billion people world-wide and is a major contributor to death from stroke, myocardial infarction, end-stage renal disease and congestive heart failure. One...

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Milkmaids Discover Smallpox

The vaccine for smallpox saves up to 2 million lives annually, according to the World Health Organization. Its origins are unknown and dates back hundreds of years; this horrific infectious disease known as "the pox" has been responsible for plagues killing millions...

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