World War II

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In the National World War II museum, it is easy and even triumphant and pride-generating to look back and see some of the scientific advances made during World War II.  There’s no doubt that science is advancing.  But I wonder if our ethics can keep pace.

I am fairly proud of Teflon.  And synthetic cortisone is widely used and may have saved plenty of lives. It’s a steroid that knocks down the action of the immune system.  When a medical substance becomes cheaper and easier to use and known to the public, then it runs a real danger of getting overused.  Most concern about overuse is focused on illegal steroids taken by athletes.  Nevertheless, everything that can be helpful and fast may make things worse. One example would be the over-prescribing of steroids to kids with allergies.

Penicillin had been invented before WWII, but its use did not become widespread until WWII.  Of course, it took people awhile to find out about the ability of bacteria to develop resistances to antibiotics.  This has led to newer and stronger antibiotics, which would not be the worst thing in the world. Unfortunately, the excessive use of antibiotics has led to untreatable infections, such as methicilline-resistant strep and an untreatable strain of tuberculosis. Read more on Science and War (and Ethics)…

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It takes a while, when you have something new, to know how bad it is going to end up being.

Marie Curie not only discovered radium – she discovered radiation poisoning.  The very work that earned her a Nobel prize killed her.

mushroom cloud

At that time, it had never happened before, so nobody knew what it was.  That was a long time before Chernobyl. And a longer time still before whatever happened in Japan.

I mean whatever happened.  We still don’t know exactly how much leaked out, and what it can cause to go wrong.  The Japanese have issued a kind apology.  They have even come up with a cute animated film to explain what is going on —  although there is no doubt in my mind that these are not the same people as those who issued the apology.

You can watch the video on the continuation page.

Read more on We Never Learn — And History Repeats Itself…

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