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Short Stories of Science and Invention

A Collection of Radio Talks by
Charles F. Kettering


56.   Purple Dye, Sun Glasses and Malaria

Carpenter     But sometimes, quinine isn't available to do its fever fighting. Such was the case nearly 100 years ago, when the Englishman, William Henry Perkin, set out to chemically reproduce quinine to combat a Malaria epidemic. As one man has said "the chances for success then were about as good as those of a carpenter who tries to build a house at the foot of a hill by sliding shingles, rafters, doors and window casings down from the hilltop." Perkin failed in the synthesis but he did discover aniline purple, the first coal tar dye, and this started a new industry.

     Some years ago quinine interested an American, Edwin Land, in connection with an entirely different project. He found that by aligning crystals of quinine and iodine in a transparent plastic sheet, he could inexpensively polarize light.

Sun Glasses     Many of you have used polarizing sun glasses based on this principle. But the new company which resulted from this development could see that trouble in the Far East might some day interfere with its supply of quinine. In March, 1942, their worst fears were verified - Japan seized Java. But in the meantime they had anticipated this event and had planned research along two lines: a substitute polarizer made without quinine and then the more difficult task that had baffled scientists for nearly a hundred years - synthesizing quinine itself.


- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton

by Ian Ellis
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