The Autumn Garden dramaturgy: 1949 science and medicine

Table of Contents

Science and Medicine

King Solomon’s Ring: New Light on Animal Ways (Er redete mit dem Vich, dem Vögeln und Fischen: King Solomon’s Ring) by Austrian zoologist and theologist Konrad (Zacharias) Lorenz, 46, describes his discovery of the “imprinting” by which hatchling Greylag geese and other birds learn to recognize substitute parents early in life. Having founded the science of ethology (the study of animal behavior in the wild), Lorenz shows that Darwinian natural selection processes operate not only in shaping physical form but also in determining behavioral characteristics.

Nobel chemist Friedrich K. R. Bergius dies at Buenos Aires March 30 at age 64, having helped the German war effort with his method for making gasoline from coal and heavy oil (and ways to break down wood molecules to produce alcohol and sugar).

Parke, Davis introduces the antibiotic chloramphenicol under the trade name Chloromycetin; it is hailed as the first major breakthrough against typhoid fever.

Microbiologist Félix d’Hérelle dies at Paris April 25 at age 75, having discovered the bateriophage, a virus that eats bacteria.

A paper published in the Medical Journal of Australia in September by Melbourne psychiatrist John F. J. (Frederick Joseph) Cade, 37, pioneers use of lithium to treat manic depression. Suspecting that the bipolar disorder might be caused by a hormone, Cade collected urine from patients, injected it into guinea pigs, saw that the test animals had seizures, isolated sodium urate, found that animals injected with lithium urate became lethargic rather than manic, obtained the same result with lithium carbonate, and determined that the compound could suppress mood swings that can sometimes be violent. Two articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in March have demonstrated lithium toxicity, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will ban us0065 of lithium until 1970, but while it can have unpleasant side effects, lithium therapy will revolutionize treatment of bipolar disorder.

Bombay cardiologist Rustom Jal Vakil, 38, reports in the prestigious British Heart Journal that he has lowered blood pressure effectively using powdered root from the tropical plant Rauwolfia serpentina (see 1952).

X rays from a synchrotron are used for the first time in medical diagnosis and treatment.

Australian psychiatrist John F. Cade describes the stabilizing effects of lithium, the first antidepressant.

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