Wednesday 24 May 2017


You just got home after a long and tiring day at work. You kick off your shoes, sit on your comfy cushioned chair and turn on the television to your favourite programs. Just as you think all is right in the world, you noticed a putrid smell in the air. *Click* Suddenly you remembered the half finished morning breakfast that you forgot to leave in the fridge and now it has become this mouldy and sour smelling abomination.

Sir Alexander Fleming, 1951.
Alfred Eisenstaedt-Time &Life Picture/Getty Images

Obviously, most people would have chucked it out in no time, but if Scottish biologist Sir Alexander Fleming decided to just throw one of his experiments gone wrong: humanity wouldn’t be able to reap the benefits of his life saving penicillin-the world’s first real antibiotic. Diseases such as pneumonia, gonorrhoea and food poisoning and much more would run rampant. With no cure, the death toll would definitely increase with the prospect of humanity’s future ever grim.

But what if I told you that this disaster was prevented or at the very least reduced because of pure human error? Fleming was studying a way to overcome Staphylococcus, the bacteria that causes such nasty diseases.

During his vacation from his duties as a bacteriologist at St. Mary’s hospital, he had returned to his dusty old laboratory when he noticed how there were mould spots covering his accidentally left open staphylococcus petri dish. In a fit of pure curiosity/ stroke of genius, he had put the dish under a microscope and that’s when he made a miraculous discovery: the mould spots had no traces of the deadly bacteria. 

    Science Photos/ Shutterstock

This mould was called penicillin chrysogenum and it revolutionised the world of medicine. 14 years later, in March 1942; Anne Miller became the first successfully cured patient thanks to penicillin which is still saving lives even today. Who said nothing good ever comes out of accidents?

Shared by David Mok
Guest Blogger

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