Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ungrateful bastards : Manhattan's penicillin saved a family member of everyone of the nineteen 9/11 terrorists

I admit that I didn't start this project on Dr Dawson's penicillin crusade with any intention to call it "the OTHER Manhattan Project".

But here is how it all came about, as best I remember it.

I was watching a CBC TV debate about the reasons why Manhattan was attacked on 9/11; this was some time in 2005... or even 2006.

Someone on the panel was trying to explain that older people everywhere around the world, rather like Frank Sinatra, just loved the Hollywood movie version of New York City.

However the younger generation, in general and not just in the Muslim world, had some quite different, additional, images conjured up whenever 'Manhattan' was mentioned .

Such as the worldwide recession and high youth unemployment caused by the excessive 'Greed-is-Goodism' of a small handful of traders from Manhattan Island's Wall Street.

 And the prospects of Mankind blowing us all up, thanks to the nuclear bomb possibilities generated by "The Manhattan Project."

At this point, I yelled up to my better half, Rebecca, in my usual exasperated TV-watching tone, "What about the OTHER Manhattan Project??"

"I'd bet my life", I said," that someone in everyone of those 9/11 hijackers' families at some time or other had their life saved by the antibiotics that came out of wartime Manhattan and Dr Dawson's quixotic efforts ----- those un - grate - ful bastards !!!!"

I promptly forgot all about it after blowing off steam.

But I soon took to calling my effort, informally and only to Rebecca, Manhattan's other Project or the other Manhattan Project.

But I didn't take it too seriously as an actual concept or theme.

Like most of us, I had long thought the 'Manhattan' part of the Manhattan Project was a clever ruse to put the Nazis off the scent - everyone knew the atomic bomb was developed in the desert of New Mexico and also in desert-like conditions in Washington State and backwoods Tennessee .

Dusty - or muddy - areas as empty of people and urbanity as Manhattan was full of them.

Clever, very clever.

But actually the planners of the Atomic Project were even cleverer.

They took a page from Edgar Allan Poe and put the brainy bits of the atomic effort in Manhattan - "hidden in plain sight" - and only put the final production plants out in the desert. But all that high tech equipment and manpower out in the desert actually came out of the North East industrial core, in particular from the Greater New York City area.

Atomic Historian, Robert S Norris, set the world straight on the massive amount of  atomic history that happened first and foremost in the New York area.

But what I specially noted, even if Norris didn't particularly highlight the fact, was that the Cold War Nuclear Threat was actually birthed in Harlem, not out in the desert, and within a few hundred meters of the most dramatic single event in all the penicillin saga.

As a Baby Boomer, 1950s antibiotics ending childhood diseases and Cold War mass production of  A- bombs possibly ending childhood, period, interested me far more than the small amount of inefficient bomb materials developed out in the desert to end WWII but then were never used again to make A-bombs.

If our world should end tomorrow, it is gaseous diffusion uranium that did it - and that was the stuff developed in Harlem's Nash Building and then taken up by all the world's big nuclear bomb makers.

Now I had the two biggest news stories of the entire 20th Century ( according to a poll of 35,000 Americans ) happening in the same year in the same 80 acre space in North West Harlem - what a story !

And I stand by my claim - everyone on Earth, 60 years after the beginnings of the Antibiotic Era, has had a family member, now or in the past, whose life was saved by the antibiotic revolution.

You all remember the british policeman, one of the most famous patients in all history, who told his family when they saw the tiny dot of blood on his cheek, "Don't panic - I just got scratched by a rose while out gardening and you can't possibly die from that !"

But before antibiotics, you could.

 And he did.

Hospitals back then were filled with foul-smelling septic wards and filled with septic cases, sad stories of  healthy young people dying needlessly of blood poisoning that all started with a little infection.

You don't have to be at death's door to have a course of antibiotics 'save your life' ---- you just need to make the emotional leap back in time to think what might of happened to you if your minor infection hadn't been nipped in the bud.

So don't be like those ungrateful 9/11 bastards.

 Thank your lucky stars, and thank Dr Dawson, the next time your doctor yawns behind their hand while they write out a prescription for a course of antibiotics after discovering you have a minor bacterial infection.

 'May life-saving always be so routine' .....

No comments:

Post a Comment