Groundbreaking Scientific Experiments, Inventions, and Discoveries of the Ancient World

By Robert E. Krebs; Carolyn A. Krebs | Go to book overview

7
MEDICINE AND HEALTH

Background and History

Modern medicine is dominated by technological, diagnostic, and pharmacological achievements. Remarkably, most of these advancements were beyond the imagination and aspirations of physician-researchers as recendy as the mid-twentieth century. Penicillin is a classic example—a discovery that was first made in 1928 by Alexander Fleming (1881–1955) but not fully recognized or appreciated until the 1940s, when British scientists made further tests and developed its potential for use as an antibiotic agent. Up until 1944, Allied servicemen and servicewomen injured during World War II were treated, at times unsuccessfully, with sulfa and other anti-infective drugs. The mortality rate from infection dropped significantly once penicillin was available and used on a widespread basis. Today, the use of antibiotics is commonplace to the point of their being overprescribed. Another significant advancement in medicine was the development of computer- and laserguided technology, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans that have enabled physicians to more effectively diagnose and treat scores of diseases and injuries. The first modern computer was not developed until 1952; lasers were introduced in the late 1950s.

While the level and scope of medical advancements that have been made in the last 50 years may be the most important, the history of medicine, which began many thousands of years ago, is replete with discoveries, experiments, and inventions that were made with one purpose in mind—to alleviate someone’s pain or suffering. That, in itself, sets us apart from other mammals, who when ill or injured will crawl off to “lick their own wounds.” Humans will intervene in the care or treatment of

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Groundbreaking Scientific Experiments, Inventions, and Discoveries of the Ancient World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Groundbreaking Scientific Experiments, Inventions, and Discoveries of the Ancient World iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Series Foreword xiii
  • Introduction xvii
  • 1: Agriculture and Animal Domestication 1
  • 2: Astronomy 33
  • 3: Biology, Botany, and Zoology 61
  • 4: Communication 81
  • 5: Engineering and Machinery 105
  • 6: Mathematics 149
  • 7: Medicine and Health 179
  • 8: Personal and Household 211
  • 9: The Physical Sciences 243
  • 10: Timekeeping 267
  • 11: Tools and Weaponry 295
  • 12: Transportation, Trade, and Navigation 321
  • Glossary 349
  • Selected Bibliography 357
  • Name Index 363
  • Subject Index 367
  • About the Authors 377
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