The Strange History of Antidepressants

Ironically, despite the horrors of war, armed conflict has a way of advancing medicine. Gruesome injuries sustained on the battlefield provide opportunities for surgeons to experiment and test new approaches for treatment. During World War II for example, blood poisoning, bronchitis, and other infectious diseases contracted by soldiers created a demand for broad spectrum antibiotics, which encouraged British scientists to find new ways to produce penicillin on a mass scale.

Sometimes, weapons of war themselves have applications other than mass destruction. Consider hydrazine (N2H4), a chemical compound that received renewed recognition by the military-industrial complex in 1937 Germany. Continue reading “The Strange History of Antidepressants”

How a Pile of Uranium Changed the World

On December 3rd, 1942,  under the stands at the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field, scientists produced a breakthrough that would change the course of history. There, on that day, physicist Enrico Fermi and his team from the university initiated the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear reaction, bringing forth the dawn of the nuclear age. They had achieved the primary objective of the top secret Mahattan Project.

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