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Charles Bradlaugh (1833–1891)

Charles Bradlaugh (1833–1891) Charles Bradlaugh was as a political and social activist in the seventeenth century in England. He held leadership positions in various organizations focused on social and political activism including the Reform League, the London Secular Society, the newspaper National Reformer, and the National Secular Society. Throughout his career, Bradlaugh advocated for better conditions for the working poor, and for the separation of government and religion. The British government prosecuted him numerous times for violating laws prohibiting the publication, sale, and transmission of antireligious, antigovernment, and obscene materials. In 1877, Bradlaugh and another secularist, Annie Besant, republished The Fruits of Philosophy, a pamphlet about contraceptive techniques originally whose author was physician Charles Knowlton. In the nineteenth century, individuals did not

David H. Hubel and Torsten N. Wiesel’s Research on Optical Development in Kittens

David H. Hubel and Torsten N. Wiesel’s Research on Optical Development in KittensDuring 1964, David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel studied the short and long term effects of depriving kittens of vision in one eye. In their experiments, Wiesel and Hubel used kittens as models for human children. Hubel and Wiesel researched whether the impairment of vision in one eye could be repaired or not and whether such impairments would impact vision later on in life. The researchers sewed one eye of a kitten shut for varying periods of time. They found that when vision impairments occurred to the kittens right after birth, their vision was significantly affected later on in life, as the cells that were responsible for processing visual information redistributed to favor the unimpaired eye. Hubel and Wiesel worked together for over twenty years

The China-US Study on the Prevention of Neural Tube Defects using Folic Acid (1999)

The China-US Study on the Prevention of Neural Tube Defects using Folic Acid (1999) From 1993 to 1995 researchers led by Robert J. Berry from the US Centers for Disease Control headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and Zhu Li from Beijing Medical University in Beijing, China, conducted a collaborative study in China on the prevention of neural tube defects or NTDs using folic acid supplements. NTDs are birth defects in which openings in the spinal cord or the brain that occur during early development remain after birth. Neural-tube formation occurs in early pregnancy, often before a woman knows she

The Fruits of Philosophy (1832), by Charles Knowlton

The Fruits of Philosophy (1832), by Charles Knowlton In 1832, Charles Knowlton published The Fruits of Philosophy, a pamphlet advocating for controlling reproduction and detailing methods for preventing pregnancy. Originally published anonymously in Massachusetts, The Fruits of Philosophy was an illegal book because United States law prohibited the publishing of immoral and obscene material, which included information about contraception. In The Fruits of Philosophy, Knowlton detailed recipes for contraceptives and advocated for controlling reproduction. In 1877 in Europe, social activists Charles Bradlaugh and Annie Besant republished the pamphlet in London, England. At that time, many governments, including the United Kingdom, still

Twice Born–Stories from the Special Delivery Unit (2015), by the Public Broadcasting Service and Trailblazer Studios

Twice Born–Stories from the Special Delivery Unit (2015), by the Public Broadcasting Service and Trailblazer StudiosIn 2015, the Public Broadcasting Service, or PBS, released a three-part documentary series, Twice Born–Stories from the Special Delivery Unit, hereafter Twice Born, that follows several pregnant women and their experiences with fetal surgery. Trailblazer Studios produced the film, which predominantly features two women, although it includes the stories of many women. The two main women are pregnant with fetuses diagnosed with physical deformities. One woman’s fetus is diagnosed with spina bifida, an incomplete closure of the fetus’s spinal column. The other woman’s

“Revival of Spermatozoa after Dehydration and Vitrification at Low Temperatures” (1949), by Christopher Polge, Audrey Ursula Smith, and Alan Sterling Parkes

“Revival of Spermatozoa after Dehydration and Vitrification at Low Temperatures” (1949), by Christopher Polge, Audrey Ursula Smith, and Alan Sterling ParkesIn the 1949 article “Revival of Spermatozoa after Dehydration and Vitrification at Low Temperatures,” researchers Christopher Polge, Audrey Ursula Smith, and Alan Sterling Parkes demonstrated that glycerol prevents cells from dying while being frozen. Polge and his colleagues discussed several procedures in which they had treated sperm cells from various species with glycerol, froze those cells, and then observed the physiological effects that freezing had on the treated sperm. The researchers

Trial of Madame Restell (Ann Lohman) for Abortion (1841)

Trial of Madame Restell (Ann Lohman) for Abortion (1841)In the spring of 1841, abortionist Ann Lohman, called Madame Restell, was convicted for crimes against one of her abortion clients, Maria Purdy. In a deathbed confession, Purdy admitted that she had received an abortion provided by Madame Restell, and she further claimed that the tuberculosis that she was dying from was a result of her abortion. Restell was charged with administering an illegal abortion in New York and her legal battles were heavily documented in the news. Madame Restell’s arrest was one of many highly publicized altercations with the law she experienced during her forty years as

"On the Replication of Desoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA)" (1954), by Max Delbruck

"On the Replication of Desoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA)" (1954), by Max DelbruckIn 1954 Max Delbrück published "On the Replication of Desoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA)" to question the semi-conservative DNA replication mechanism proposed that James Watson and Francis Crick had proposed in 1953. In his article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Delbrück offers an alternative DNA replication mechanism, later called dispersive replication. Unlike other articles before it, "On the Replication" presents ways to experimentally test different DNA replication theories. The article sparked a debate in

Max Ludwig Henning Delbruck (1906–1981)

Max Ludwig Henning Delbruck (1906–1981)Max Ludwig Henning Delbrück applied his knowledge of theoretical physics to biological systems such as bacterial viruses called bacteriophages, or phages, and gene replication during the twentieth century in Germany and the US. Delbrück demonstrated that bacteria undergo random genetic mutations to resist phage infections. Those findings linked bacterial genetics to the genetics of higher organisms. In the mid-twentieth century, Delbrück helped start the Phage Group and Phage Course in the US, which further organized phage research. Delbrück also contributed to the DNA replication debate that culminated in the 1958 Meselson-Stahl experiment, which demonstrated how organisms replicate their genetic information. For his work with phages, Delbrück earned part of the 1969 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Richard Doll (1912–2005)

Richard Doll (1912–2005)Richard Doll was an epidemiologist and public figure in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Working primarily at the University of Oxford, in Oxford, England, Doll established a definitive correlation between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. Furthermore, Doll’s work helped legitimize epidemiology as a scientific discipline. Doll’s research also helped establish modern guidelines for oncological studies, as well as for contemporary and future research on the effect of smoking on pregnancy and fetal development. In addition to studying the health effects of smoking, Doll also studied cervical cancer and contraceptives.

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