Accidental Medical Discoveries: How Tenacity and Pure Dumb Luck Changed the World

Accidental Medical Discoveries: How Tenacity and Pure Dumb Luck Changed the World

by Robert W. Winters


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Many of the world’s most important and life-saving devices and techniques were often discovered purely by accident. Serendipity, timing, and luck played a part in the discovery of unintentional cures and breakthroughs:

A plastic shard in an RAF pilot’s eye leads to the use of plastic for the implantable lens.
The inability to remove a titanium chamber from rabbit’s bone leads to dental implants.
Viagra was discovered by a group of chemists, working in the lab to find a new drug to alleviate the pain of angina pectoris.
A stretch of five weeks of unusually warm weather in 1928 played a role in assisting Dr. Alexander Fleming in his analysis of bacterial growth and the discovery of penicillin.
After studying the effects of the venom injected by the bite of a deadly pit viper snake, chemists developed a groundbreaking drug that works to control blood pressure.

Accidental Medical Discoveries is an entertaining and enlightening look at the creation of 25 medical inventions that have changed the world – unintentionally. The book is presented in a lively and engaging way, and will appeal to a wide variety of readers, from history buffs to trivia fanatics to those in the medical profession.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781510712461
Publisher: Skyhorse
Publication date: 11/22/2016
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 247,106
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Robert W. Winters is an experienced medical scientist, doctor, teacher, and writer. He is a graduate of Indiana University and of the Yale School of Medicine. He was a professor of pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. The author resides in Helsingor, Denmark.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Preface ix

Part I Surgery And Anesthesia 1

1 The Gleam of Cold Steel: Surgery without Anesthesia 3

2 Ether and Nitrous Oxide: Blessed Relief 7

3 Chloroform: The Clergy Objects 21

4 Cocaine Anesthesia: Freud's Favorite 31

Part II Implants 37

5 The Artificial Lens: A Legacy of Wartime 39

6 Good as New: Dental Implants 47

Part III Drugs That Affect The Blood 57

7 Vitamin K: Began with a Bleeding Chick 59

8 Dicumarol and Warfarin: Began with a Bleeding Cow 63

Part IV Drugs That Fight Infection 71

9 Smallpox: The Cure of a Lesser Evil 73

10 Penicillin: The Crucial Role of Weather 85

11 Streptomycin: A Major Dispute 95

12 Cephalosporins: Something in the Sewage 107

13 Peptic Ulcers: A Discovery in an Empty Lab 113

Part V Drugs That Affect The Heart 123

14 Nitroglycerin and Amyl Nitrite: Boom! 125

15 Digitalis: The Shropshire Woman and the Foxglove 131

16 The Tranquilizers: Two Chance Discoveries 139

17 LSD: A Mind-Blowing Accident 145

18 Lithium: The First Guinea Pigs ... Were Guinea Pigs! 151

19 Thorazine: A Cure from Curare 157

Part VI Thevitamins (Vit(Al) Amines) 165

20 The Naming of Vitamins: The Vital Missing Pieces 167

21 Vitamin B1: Brown Rice Cures Beriberi 171

22 Vitamin C: Another Battle for Priority 181

23 Vitamin D: Bowlegged Lion Cubs 191

Part VII Other Medical Discoveries 201

24 Insulin: The Role of Insomnia 203

25 Viagra: A Pleasant Surprise 215

26 X-rays: Bertha's Hand 225

Afterword: Acceptance of New Discoveries 235

About the Author 241

Index 243

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Accidental Medical Discoveries: How Tenacity and Pure Dumb Luck Changed the World 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a quick and interesting read on the serendipity of medical discovery. Loved it!