Edward Jenner should be a household name! He is sometimes called the “Father of Immunology” and is credited with saving more lives than anyone else in the history of the world.
This British scientist noticed that milkmaids rarely got the dreaded disease smallpox, although 60% of the population caught the disease and 20% died from it.
(Yes, you got that right: 1 out of every 5 people died from smallpox back then. And 1 out of every 3 people who caught the disease died from it. Crazy, huh?)
He further noticed that milkmaids caught cowpox, a much less virulent disease, at a much higher rate than the general population (since it is a disease caught from contact with an infected cow). Jenner speculated that cowpox gives immunity to smallpox.
Jenner was not the first to have thought of this connection between cowpox and smallpox. Early forms of vaccination were practiced in ancient China as early as 200 B.C., and people in India and Turkey developed early vaccination practices as well. At least six people in Britain and Germany had privately arranged to be infected with cowpox, and to infect their families, hoping for (and achieving) immunity to smallpox. Ronald Hopkins states: "Jenner's unique contribution was not that he inoculated a few persons with cowpox, but that he then proved they were immune to smallpox. Moreover, he demonstrated that the protective cowpox could be effectively inoculated from person to person, not just directly from cattle. In addition he tested his theory on a series of 23 subjects. This aspect of his research method increased the validity of his evidence.”
Jenner went on to present his work to the Royal Society (a group of scientists that reviews new findings) and to further study and promote vaccination.
Jenner's legacy is not just the eradication of smallpox (which is wonderful enough!), but also the diminishing of many other diseases such as whooping cough, polio, tetanus, measles, and chicken pox.
To see what a horrifying thing smallpox used to be, compute the number of people in your life who would have had it and would have died from it if scientists hadn't created the vaccination. Use the percentages given: 60% of the population got smallpox, and 20% of the population died from it.
In order to do this task, use a calculator (or paper-and-pencil, or just mental math!) to find 60%, and then 20%, of... Also on this day...
It's Errol Barrow Day in Barbados
Today the people of Barbados honor their first prime minister, who helped win independence from Britain.
Barbados is a small Caribbean island that is close to South America and part of the “border” between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. That is, if chunks of water had borders, which they almost never do!
What's your IQ?
(Your Island Quotient, that is...)
Can you figure out which ocean or sea each group of islands below is in?
1. Hawaii, Tahiti, Galapagos
2. Jamaica, Cayman, Puerto Rico
3. Azores, Iceland, Bermuda
4. Cyprus, Sicily, Crete
5. Sri Lanka, Phi Phi, Penang
Your choices are:
- Atlantic Ocean
- Indian Ocean
- Pacific Ocean
- Caribbean Sea
- Mediterranean Sea
ANSWERS: 1. Pacific Ocean 2. Caribbean Sea 3. Atlantic Ocean 4. Mediterranean Sea 5. Indian Ocean