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tv   Author Discussion on Science History  CSPAN  April 14, 2019 3:25am-4:31am EDT

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the other two books and i said what are you talking about, he said man on the frontier, i guess that's it. >> host: shoot for the moon is his newest book, chances are between now and july of 2019 we will be seeinghistory of medici. your watching live coverage on book tv. [inaudible] >> i'm going to get started here. welcome everyone. the scientific look at the elements that create our world. thank you everyone for coming especially at 4:30 p.m. when it's not time. i am the moderator here. i was one of the judges from los angeles times science and technology book price and it's
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wonderful to read so many and have a conversation with these folks here today. we are going to get started in a couple of reminders. please silence your cell phones, also personal recording is not allowed. all of our lovely authors will be available for signing books through the door. i'm going to introduce our panelists and then we will have a conversation and the new guys will have a chance to ask questions. i'm going to start here with thomas hager, award winning author with a history of science and medicine including the demand under the microscope. it is a courtesy professor of journalism and communication at the university of oregon. next to him is marsha, her book, time fullness, she is a professor of geology and environmental studies at lawrence university in appleton, wisconsin. she told me it is still snowing. . . .
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her journalism has been published in "the news york times" scientist american the guardian and the statesman among other publications and she lives in yorkshire, england. she wins the prize for having the hardest i think. next is and pfizer and his book is a moment of grain all about sampey's award-winning journalist who has appeared in the atlantic "mother jones" in "the news york times" among other publications and he gets the award for coming the shortest distance as he lives in los angeles. just kind of wanted to get started here by talking about all of these books are about
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inanimate objects but they kind of function like characters in your looks. i was wondering if you guys could talk a little bit about how you chose these characters because they have to be very flexible. they end up being like virginia woolf orlando where they shave -- shape shift and travel through time and i wondered if you considered other characters and why not them and why the ones that you guys chose? >> we will go in order to my book as you might suspect involves 10 drugs more or less. i had 10 characters to choose from and actually you know what to choose when you write a book is always a difficult question for me but my editor came to me with this project. the editor jamison stoltz a very talented guy.
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he wanted to do a certain type of book and i wanted to do a different kind of look and we went back and forth. what he kind of wanted at the beginning sounded to me more like a greatest hits list of the 10 biggest drugs like the 10 best known drugs. but i happen to know a lot of those drugs have had books written about them. i wanted to do something that was surprising on one hand so i wanted to do things that hadn't been done in depth before and i wanted to do something that involved good stories because i write nonfiction and when you are writing about science to a broad audience you want a good story to tell to bring readers through a could be some tough material technically. i chose based on what i found interesting personally and in what i thought the entertainment value would be. with those two things in mind "ten drugs" tells a larger story about the development of
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medicine as well. he it was a chess game. moving pieces around. >> marcia. >> i spent a lot of time in the company of rock. [laughter] timmy rocks are characters. they have amazing stories to tell and i spent a lot of my adult life trying to learn there are strange complicated language i think a big part of our problem is not society environmentally and existential way. i would argue it's not seeing the natural world is something that his agency and character. to me, learning the names of things is the beginning of having a more intimate relationship with the natural world and that's the start of a cultural shift that we need. [inaudible]
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i am an accidental scientist. i've written a little bit about science. it was very different axes we were finding people who work in that industry whether they were working in development they are delighted that anybody shows any interest in them whatsoever. [laughter] so becomes very easy and luckily and sanitation there are lots of people who have developed quite a good sense of humor so it's perfect for me. plus there are so many people who work in meta-colin scientists so it's very
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difficult to triage. again like thomas said a lot of it was out of personal interest and one of the secrets of writing books is a her proposal probably looks nothing like your finished book and i think that's a good thing because organic way of my change on the way. for example one of my favorite characters which we will talk about had a very good book about blood which just said there was a blood named after her and i thought or how did you get the blood named after yourself so was accidental happenstance and luck really. >> i second that. i actually had a lot of trouble with that. this is the first book i've written and i've been writing magazine stories for many years.
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like rose i'm just a writer and a journalist. i'm not any kind of real scientists that i wound up writing a lot about science. especially in the magazine game. your editors are ours leaning on you to find a narrative to find human characters doing some exciting thing and do use their story as an excuse to talk about this larger technological or political issue or whatever. i wanted doing this book which is in large part about the different ways our civilization depends on sand. concrete is made of sand, glasses made of sand. silicon chips are made of sand. all these things that are really interesting in and of themselves but they are kind of sort of disconnected. i spent a long time trying to figure out who is the flu that's going to carry me through this? i've got to find the one person researcher or builder or something that i can tell a
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dramatic story and have them pull it together. nobody makes microchips and makes concrete and build artificial land so i was stuck on that for a while. i actually read an essay by bill mckibben who probably some of you have heard about the great food writer. not bill mckibben, i'm sorry michael pollen. i love the literary chuckle. anyway michael pollen writes a lot about food and one of the things that he said he addressed that exact question. i feel like process can be a character in a inanimate objects to be a year. just follow the and i thought that's a great idea. of course sand itself is the character and then i just had to figure out how to expand that
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out to the metaphor that i came up with to hold this book together i hope is sand as an army. because we have concrete. concrete is the main thing we stand for. you can use any old stanford that so those are the foot soldiers and there are millions and billions. glass and is a more refined kind of sand was special forces all the way to the stand we use for silicon chips which is rare and hard-to-find sand. these guys are like s.e.a.l. team six of the sand world. it starts to sound more adjusting the just plain old sand. >> one thing that was interesting about your book that i didn't know before was we are running out of sand. you want to explain that and how that's possible? >> do i ever. [laughter] here's the thing about sand. sound like the most boring thing in the world but it's actually the most important solid
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substance on earth. our civilization literally depends on it. number one is what concrete is made of. the building we are sitting and some of the entire city we are in pretty much every shopping center apartment block office center made in the world today is made partly with concrete which is mostly sand stuck together and also glass. every piece of glass and all this other stuff that first and foremost and far most important we are using concrete. we use unbelievable amounts of concrete to build cities. we are building cities around the world in the developing world today on a scale that has never happened remotely before. so there is a lot of sand in the world obviously but the there are more and more people in this world all the time and more in our moving into the cities all the time we are having the equivalent of eight new york city's added to the planet every
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year. imagine every building, every road, every sidewalk airport and runway in new york city we are putting down that much concrete and adding that much concrete to the planet every single year. we are using about 60 billion tons of sand every year. there is a lot of that but when you're talking about amounts that large sooner or later you start to run out and that's what's starting to happen. there is so much demand for sand we are riverbeds and beaches they are all over the world causing environmental damage and in some places it's gotten so bad the black market has taken over and organized crime has taken over the sand business and hundreds of people have been murdered over sand of all things. >> yeah and so one thing that was really interesting was to think about sand running out and what was interesting about a lot of these books as we talk about our modern moments in these books were ways to talk about
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our modern moments but also about the fact that this now of concrete buildings and highways it hasn't always been the case. one thing that was interesting about marsh's book is the argument about the way that we interact with the past and also the present. the book is called "timefulness" and i was looking see what you meant by that concept. see eye-to-eye claimed that name. it's something we should aspire to the outside the realm of time but it's ultimately a sterile idea. everything has a past and evolves and is more interesting because of that history and that really is the way geologists see the world and think. one metaphor i often use in the intro to geology class is that of a obsessed texts which some
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of you know when paper didn't exist in most writing was done on parchment it was very expensive to produce so instead of throwing a document away it would be scraped off and re-inked but underneath there would be vestiges of the older writings remaining. that's very much the way geologists see rocks and landscape. it's complex text in which the pass is very much present in can be read when one learns to read that so the idea of time fullness understanding how things came to be is what i intended and most geologists the vast explanatory power of geology is what attracted us to the field. i sometimes call it the etymology of the world. there's something satisfying about being able to look out and understand how things came to be , these arbitrary things. >> the thing that blew my mind was the story of how the himalayas were created and the
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shortest time. you want to tell the story and put it into perspective? >> when one sees the earth from top-down and over geologic time you can see it's very much. diana: and changing and one of the remarkable things about this planet is how the tectonic properties driven from the internal heat in the earth is still going on and are almost exactly matched with the russians on the case of the himalayas which are the greatest mountains on the planet today being formed as the subcontinent of india constructed partly beneath asian amounts are rising but the ocean is tearing them down nearly as fast and eroded the himalaya over the last 50 years lying on the ocean floor into great submarine band so while out or put up for at the ocean for thousands of
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kilometers and represent more material than the modern mountains. amounts are growing and they are being eroded and the metaphor i use in the book is like someone sitting in a barber's chair and their hair is growing as fast as the barber can cut it. there are more clippings on the ground than there are in the head which i thought was an interesting thing. i don't know if you drove over the 101 in the melrose bridge but he was talking about looking at the cracks of the caltrans guys. maybe you can freak out the rest of our audience. >> one more thing to worry about. [laughter] all that concrete that our world is built on is breaking down. concrete is a very new building material. i had no idea but it's only the last 100 odd years that we have been using reinforced concrete
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to build all of this stuff. before that it was brixton timber and more traditional building methods and concrete just revolutionized buildings. it's easy to work with. relatively cheap to make and so as we all know it's taking over the world. the problem is it doesn't last. it looks like stone but it's not as solid and not nearly as durable as stone and if it's not well made and people often cut corners and making it. this way all of the concrete in the world is going to need to be replaced within the next 50 to 100 years. so think about that for a second. in the book i went out with caltrans, the folks who manage the highways here. they have a team of people who do nothing but go around and check on elevated roadways and
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they are constantly playing catch-up. if you driven around l.a. you know those things are falling apart. they are full of cracks and full of potholes and nobody wants to put any money into fix them. there is no political glory and patching cracks so it's a really big problem and especially in parts of the developing world like china where they are notorious for putting up and building cities at an incredibly fast rate that using shoddy methods. we are talking about billions and billions of tons of concrete , countless buildings, dams runways everything you can think of that is slowly breaking down and is going to need to somehow be replaced. we are already running short of sand and doing environmental damage to build up the world that we are building. soon within the next 50 to 100 years we are going to have to
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come up with that much again. >> can i add to the bad news briefly? the other component cement the aggregate sand is the limestone which has to be heated so that it can drop co2 so concrete production is the second biggest contributor to greenhouse gases. >> i thought it was the third biggest. >> with all fuels combined and then concrete. >> it's really bad. >> another general theme was this idea for a double-edged sword to a lot of scientists are so saying it makes us better a society or board gets a lot of times in the book you talk about theirs is great progress but there are also these negative unintended consequences. rose i was thinking would you tell the story about the plasma and the hemophiliacs?
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>> i am interested in progress. rightly or wrongly. one of the things i was very interested in how the modern blood supply in the industrialized world came about, which is when you think about it an extremely astonishing thing. we have something that is pretty banal these days which is having a transfusion or giving blood. when you think about it there are millions of people giving away a body part to a perfect stranger who they have never met or will never meet for no money. an interesting business model. the u.s. does everything differently so in the u.s. what happens is after the second world war when this model was called a non-array numerator to
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volume of blood supplies a given year blood for free and not expecting anything in return but a cookie in the orange drink was the kind of fork in the road because what happened was your blood if you let it sit the red blood will sink to the bottom end of the top you will get this yellow stuff which is plasma. it doesn't look like much but it contains lots of very useful proteins in things that can be turned into lucrative pharmaceuticals. in the u.s. what happened was the plasma industry grew up in convinced people that even though was considered an anathema to sell your blood you can't really sell it in the u.s.. it's not accepted socially anymore but you can sell your plasma. the u.s. you can sell your plasma twice a week which is the most frequent level allowed in the entire world. no one else thinks that's
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advisable or safe. and the u.s. has been called the opec of plasma. the u.s. supplies the world 80% of the world's plasma exported around the world. this is not usually plasma but transfusion. it's very useful if you need the blood to clot but it makes pharmaceutical products. one of the things that was made in the 1970s which was an absolute revelation for people who had hemophilia which is a condition where you have a defect which means your blood cannot clot. assuming you cut yourself shaving but it means you have internal bleeding and it's extremely painful agonizing and crippling. it's also used to be fatal early on in life. but then as thing came about discovered in plasma which was called factor eight. enable lead to clot. it was an extremely magical
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product. most people with hemophilia suddenly they've been forced when they would leave it have to go to the hospital for weeks on end. they were in agony and their treatment was very difficult. suddenly this thing called factor came about. they could treat themselves at home. on youtube there are videos of young kids injecting the stuff with big grins on their faces. and it was absolutely magical. transform the lives of hemophiliacs around the world but now what it also did was gave thousands upon thousands of millions around the world hiv and hepatitis as well. the trouble is plasma to get enough plasma you need tens of thousands of donations because it's so concentrated.
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in the 1970s in the u.s. it was a good idea if you got plasma from four example prisoners. there was one prison in arkansas where the president said they were milked like cows. they would come into the cell and they were given money and also plasma was sold by people who were in poor health may be on skid row called boos boos. the reason we think of voluntary blood supply is the safest because you are paying someone for blood or plasma then they may be encouraged not to tell you the truth about how healthy they are because they want the money for the next dose. this had terrible consequences around the world. thousands of hemophiliacs died.
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there was a college in the uk which was specifically for young boys with hemophilia. i think they was the class of 75 and i think about 17 died. a really horrific death toll. the england and uk has been absolutely disgraceful and how it treats these people. it was understood very quickly within a few years they you could get rid of hiv by heat treating the plasma. some companies including lots of big companies controlling the plasma industry. they knew this and they continued sending out the tainted products around the world. it was exported to hong kong and to canada. and people died. because of its business decision it was absolutely a business decision.
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they wanted to get rid of the blood plot on their shelves so was absolutely shameful, really terrible, terrible warping of what was a wonderful progress in science. people are still dying in the uk is only just inquiring. in the u.s. it's been that way. everybody sues everybody. [laughter] but canada sets up a comprehensive inquiry that over time the supply system fires people. it's ongoing and it's really shameful. >> in your look you have a lot of stories about the double-edged sword that had a slightly happier ending.
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it seemed like there was more progress made. >> you know that story about plasma is so reminiscent of every story i've ever heard about any drug ever. because you know it happens so often a new drug gets introduced and everybody companies have all this marketing and advertising and in the case of the for-profit pharmaceutical development to get this wave of enthusiasm. so new wonder drug is going to solve everybody's problem. the honeymoon. mcadoo which sales skyrocket and then it all comes down to earth after the negative reports and side effects start to come in. the newspaper people and people in the media find out that this is a true great wonder drug that in fact it causes problems. that's the second stage of the process. the third stage of the process is this rug -- drug gets enough
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research done that everybody begins to recognize that it does some good things and some bad things in has some positive things and some negative side effects for the drug will reach an equilibrium. that happens over and over and over again in the united states and around the world. it even has a name. it's a three-step honeymoon period, huge sales in a crash with negative side effects than many get an equilibrium. anytime you see any drug come out just remember no drug is all good. no drug is all bad. every drug is both. every drug is both and i'm talking about every drug without exception. you don't get any positive effect medically without the threat of some degree of risk. you mentioned sulfa drugs. sulfa was the first antibiotic before penicillin developed in the 1920s and 1930s. it was released to great acclaim
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around the world as an enormous lifesaver. sulfa in those days in the early 1930s you could pretty much by almost any medicine in the united states over-the-counter. no medicine had to be proven safe before it went on sale. this was in the early 1930s. sulfa one on sale widely everywhere because everybody knew it could cure some bacterial infections that have been killing millions is a people. was a miracle drug for about five years and then after five years in tulsa, oklahoma a bunch of kids started dying. the numbers were rising of childhood deaths from some kind of weird kidney ailment. nobody could figure it out intella doctor two and two together and found out all the victims have been taking a sulfa drug, a sweetened liquid sulfa drug. it led to huge scandal and it was the biggest mass poisoning
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in the united states come in the history of united states. 150 or so people died of poisoning from one specific preparation that was made with antifreeze as a solvent. the scandal led to in the roosevelt administration that led to the creation of the modern food and drug administration in its current form and the regulation of said drugs had to be proven safe before they could be sold to the public. that was the first time that happened. that was the basis for all of the drug regulations now. you cannot look at any drug without finding the same story to a greater or lesser degree. enthusiasm crash and an equilibrium. it's a reminder that science can't cure everything. often i think we believe that science is going to be the answer. science is going to provide society with the answers to cure
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everything. science and my experience in my research every scientific advance whether drugs or non-drugs has a positive side and it has a negative side. hundreds of people were killed in the sand trade. i think that's true of any scientific advance. you have to keep that balance in mind. >> and yet our modern life depends on many those things. you cannot exactly get rid of them. modern life depends a lot on our ability to control a lot of these things he talked about in your books. >> one way that i think about this is a scientific advance, new technology, and new drug and new understanding of the world is a tool for us. it's not the answer. so cool that we can use and we have to decide as a society how to use the tool. it's like you know you can use a
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nail to hold two boards together or you can use a nail poke somebody in the arm. it's the same nail that you are just deciding how you're going to use it. everything in my experience again in terms of science is like that. has a positive side and the negative side. it's up to us as a society to look upon it not as an endpoint or an answer of some sort or the new tool that we as a society get to use -- decide how to use. that's why it's important that people pay a lot of attention. we will be asked to deal with the fx. >> i would add using these tools wisely is understanding how they will interact with human bodies and natural systems of great complexity. >> one of the things that was interesting as you spent a lot of chapters talking about sanitary products. out this way i did not think
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about how in other parts of the world it's hard to get pads and. do you want to talk about about that a little bit? we are going there. [laughter] >> i'd also like to say that i had no idea you could die but you have beaten my tale of counterfeit rings in china but nobody died. >> yet. >> might look rose out of when people asked me how i wrote a book about blood. they wanted some kind of transformative epiphany like i was saved by a blood transfusion or i was giving blood and there's a book in it. but now i decided it actually came out of the toilet. [laughter] i wrote a book about toilets and one of the things i learned about toilets is that girls who
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in the developing world go to schools without toilets and when you consider 2.5 william people around the world have no toilets that's two .5 billion people have no toilets and that's a lot of schools. and girls manage somehow in bushes and alleyways but when they reached puberty sometimes they would drop out of school permanently. that takes a huge toll. it's an economic toll because educated girls broke to earn more money and they have fewer children. an educated girl is a good thing in many ways. i thought i was curious so i began to look at. around the world and learned of these wonderful developmental terms such as hygiene and health management, and h.s..
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having spent a lot of time in the world of sewers i soon learned hygiene management the attention given to. made sludge management really popular. 10 years ago nobody was talking about it. was bad enough trying to get people to get the world's attention on sanitation but when it came to girls, that was why i became interested in. and send how they are treated around the world. you are right the world, they don't all have commercial sanitary. there is nothing wrong with having clean cloth. there's nothing wrong with that. the trouble is because of another developmental phrase which is a taboo because of that a lot of women and girls are so ashamed and make you feel so
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ashamed of what is a natural bodily function that they cannot clean the clocks openly or cannot drive them openly in the sun and it becomes very unhygienic so that's a problem. one of the people i write about in my book is a guy called man. he has got a long panel name. he is transformed into a bollywood film. he is called pac-man because he basically revolutionized many millions of women around india by developing a low-cost sanitary pad machine that women could operate because it's very manual. he did that and i will tell this story very quickly. he did that by deciding to test out the sanitary pads himself
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where he was retroactively trying to engineer what was in the past. he made these cotton pads and put them in his undergarment and then got a football and filled with goat lead and attached it to the pad and rode around his village in south india where it's hot down there and they were white. everywoman is now wincing. the blood entered his undergarment and he said now i understand what it's like to be a woman. [laughter] you are never going to wear white again because the only people -- women wear white is on tv. he set up this pad. i feel embattled as to why there is such a taboo around the period. why are women thought to be.
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if you look at any tv advertising in our industrialized civilized society it was only last year that british tv we finally saw an advertisement for sanitary products which did not show women excreting of blue liquid that was more suitable for cleaning your car windshield. they showed something red. they showed a red liquid in the world did not end. and every advertisement for a sanitary pad is about freshness or fragrance. if you go to the archives you'll see the tennis player woman on her period in the 40 women wearing white nothing is changed. we are equally prone to the taboo about hiding and being discreet.
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i think it's a very bad message that there are people like pad man in the world. >> did you see a think it was a documentary short that won the oscar last year. >> i haven't watched a bit yale. "time" magazine a year ago put a on its cover and said it was the year of the period. i don't think it's done that before. definitely in the last five years things have gotten so much better in the developmental world. m. hm has become much more widely focused but also in popular culture not just in the u.s. but in india as well they have good social media campaigns. on the other hand they are is an endemic to do around the world.
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>> the thing that made me feel a little uncomfortable with in your book when he said the fda doesn't make manufactures list the ingredients in a. >> you have to reveal more ingredients if you make a lollipop. there are questions about what goes into and congresswoman carolyn maloney keeps putting out a bill to repeal what goes into and it keeps getting rejected. i think farrah -- was astonished to hear there was the tax, a tax on. he's an educated man with a forthcoming wife.
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it's not that he didn't know. and gordon brown the very brief prime minister was aimlessly unable to say the word tampon in parliament. said there has been some progress because i noticed in many of your books another theme is rediscovering the role of women in developing scientific ideas and coming up with them themselves. for instance in marshes but there was a woman that i hadn't heard about before and she was upset that people hadn't heard very much about her either. >> she maps two-thirds of the year, the ocean floor and no one is hurt or name. she was from michigan and she originally went to work for shell after getting a masters degree in geology and then with
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order to get her ph.d. at columbia university but was apparently blocked from doing that at the faculty because she was female. one member of the faculty who was involved with gathering sonar data of the ocean floor and the late 50's recognized that she was a meticulous scientist and somebody who is motivated to work hard and said here, take my data and figured out. she took laboriously she translated linear sonar soundings of the ocean floor into three-dimensional maps. she initially made pen and ink cope with -- to the graphics of the map and then traded poster maps that were instrumental in getting people to think differently about solid earth and led to it. marie sarp. [applause]
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>> and can i share personal anecdote? all of us occasionally read reviews on amazon about books. recently someone made the comment a positive review five stars but made the comment the tone of my book is grandmotherly. lots of thoughts collided in my head. first of all my work is about time fullness and how we should affect art. what's wrong with being a grandmother? i'm not yet that i could he. so i thought okay i shouldn't feel irritated by that than i thought would somebody say a book had a grandfatherly tone about a scientist but then i started turning the word over and my mind and i realize most of the connotations of grandmothers are good. means wisdom, hard-earned respect and so i think i will
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make peace with that one paid what i realize is we have too few grandmothers in science and for me as a female scientist and a pretty male-dominated field even today i feel the absence of those grandmothers. there are a few that i hope there are more in the future. >> it was very glad to read about lady montagu. i felt like what she did could have been done necessarily by a man. >> i totally agree to one of the chapters in my book was about smallpox and everybody knows edward jenner was the guy who gave us the smallpox vaccine. edward jenner is the father of vaccinations and which has succeeded. small puffs backs and nations just remind her smallpox was the worst killer disease humans have ever faced. it was worse than the black plague. it was worse than anything we have ever raised over hundreds
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of thousands of years. smallpox killed hundreds of millions of human beings. solving the problem of smallpox was a huge deal. today's smallpox does not exist on earth. it's one of the greatest triumphs and medical history. what i did was instead of focusing on jenner for my chapter i focused on an english woman in the year is probably a century before jenner did his work named lady mary montague. lady mary was this phenomenal figure to me. she was a brilliant young woman from a family in england. she married against her father's wishes, she married in up-and-coming young politician. he was assigned to be the ambassador of great written to
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constantinople, the capital of the ottoman empire now istanbul. anyway lady mary insisted on going with him. she had suffered smallpox and three-quarters of the people that get smallpox, she survived. smallpox kills about a quarter of its victims pray she survived but her skin was. most of the people who got smallpox who survived ended up with deep pits in their skin, these guards. he was a terrifically scarring disease and lady mary had some of that on her skin preach he went to turkey with her husband and her young son and she threw herself into the lives of women in the ottoman empire and she learned a lot about them including visiting them in their bouts she was amazed being a proper woman of her time how corseted with heavy counts all the time. she was amazed to go into these
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baths and see the freedom with which the ottoman women amongst themselves were and were open with each other with this social revelation to her. and addition she noticed her skin was unmarked or just around about by the ottoman women were not marked with smallpox. she found out the secret. this is part of female culture in the ottoman empire. they were in charge of the process by which an old wise woman, a grandfatherly type, was brought in for a treatment, groups of children once they reached a certain age usually six to 12 years old. an old woman with a nutshell full of smallpox scrapings from someone who had a mild case of smallpox.
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she would bring this nutshell and ended needle and the group children would all be scratched with a needle. they would get a mild case of smallpox and then it would go away without any scarring or very light scarring and they would never be endangered having smallpox again. it was called inoculation. inoculation with smallpox is a huge advance. lady mary against the wishes of almost everyone she knew decided to have the procedure done on her son. her son was very young put in secret she had them inoculated and he survived. he never got smallpox for the rest of his life and she brought the secret back to england. she tried to introduce it to the physicians in england knowing ahead of time because she came from a leading family she new physicians probably wouldn't listen to her in part because the procedure was from the ottoman barbarians. she spent the next 10 years
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introducing the leading positions including the royal of king george's convincing the medical community that this procedure works. she was not a scientist. she was merely her brilliant and intelligent woman who was unafraid. she really opened the door. one of the people who got and not elated with her procedure was edward jenner as a child. jenner later went on to found -- find that cal paek's can do the same thing that worked. is a baca. jenner became famous. mary montague disappeared into history. very few people know about her but it was delightful to learn this. [applause] >> a great story. as you can see you can keep telling great stories all the time but i want to put it up for
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questions. you have a question without some might fear and we will take one back there. >> how long does it take nature to make a grain of sand? >> now i'm really nervous. you are two chairs down for me. >> it's a test now. >> a long time. [laughter] [applause] >> it's a complicated question. you have to start with the right raw materials. not all rocks will lead to courts and if that's what we mean by sand. quartz is the most dominant mineral on earth but the most robust. probably most quartz sand comes from granite to get to make the granite first underneath volcanoes.
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erosion is also complicated. it depends on the climate. so i don't know. [laughter] >> a long time. [laughter] >> i would like to ask.there rose george. >> i'm i'm not a doctor. >> is yusem a professor. what's the most dangerous contagion under created by humans that you wrote about? >> i didn't catch that. snoke was the most dangerous substance known to mankind that you wrote about in your book? >> did you talk about how many people have died in how contagious it is? >> i wrote a whole book about it humans excrement whatever you want to call it is, can be a
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vehicle which for many unpleasant passengers a loss of things like traveling. the reason that we now do not die of cholera and dysentery and before the age of five or 10 is because we have very good separation of ourselves from our excrement. that's not the case around the world. the second biggest killer of children under age five around the world is not aids or malaria but it is. it's caused by various diseases but is extremely preventable. unique clean water and sanitation and that's pretty much it. and yet we cannot seem to fix ft so that's a real shocking fact but that's because as he points
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out human waste is a very good weapon of mass -- >> any questions here. the woman up here. >> that brings up two questions i wanted to ask. can crumbling concrete be recycled? canopy broken down and reused and the other question from your last response what about something i've heard about called transplant. >> how am i going to make that segue. [laughter] >> i don't know. so we can recycle that. [laughter] just like with excrement
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concrete can be recycled to a certain extent. that does have them already and it should be happening more. that would definitely help with the whole sand problem but it can only be done to a limited extent for a couple of reasons. one is it's quite expensive. if you think about how much energy you need to crush concrete. most concrete has rebar. you have to get that out. there are often chemicals mixed in with the cement. you have to deal with all of those things before you can reuse it as a building material. like i say it is happening but it's expensive and what you are left with doesn't really work for all applications and the actual shape of the grain by the
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time it's mixed with cement and you busted back down again the shape is often not quite right. so you can only reuse it to a limited extent. we are doing this much and we could be doing this much but recycling is not a permanent solution in the other problem with recycling concrete is, it's not like a plastic bottle. this is assigned to be used once you can make it into a new bottle but you build something out of concrete you don't want to go to that golden ones and then destroyed. you want the hoping to stay in place were -- for 50, 60, 8100 years. much of that sand is taken out of circulation pretty much. as long as we are talking about recycling. [laughter]
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>> fecal transplants. when i wrote my book in 2008 fecal transplants were just being talked about and they were seen as absolutely lunatic absolute end of the province of? even though they were being performed by scientists with decent reputations. a fecal transplant, if you have an anti-viral resistance to the area one of the most common is called c. diff which does not respond to medicines. one of the things that is proven to be very useful in rebuilding the bacteria that is the good bacteria that you need in your system is if you find a donor of a stool sample so if you find someone to give you some.
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a disease-free relative is usually a good idea and then you get a transfusion of the stuff. and it's really a sick. they it was blended with the swizzle stick and put into the patient. it has an astonishing success rate. it was quite reputable research that showed a cure rate of c. diff which was unheard of. now they are much more common and widespread there is much more research and they are pretty commonly done. you can do diy and people do them. there's a whole sub culture. certainly much bigger in california. [laughter] people doing their own fecal transplants. >> go us. >> do we have time for one more
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question? one more question, the gentleman in the middle. wait for the microphone. >> i'm really interested in the difference in the trade book written about science. between books that are written by scientists themselves people like richard dawkins or jared diamond and people who have written books by journalists. i'm a fan of many science books that are written by either group i've been thinking about what are the differences. one that comes to mind is journalists seem to really like to write about the science life along with the science. sometimes it's really useful and sometimes it seems like too much information. but i wonder. >> i think we have crossed the tmi barrier already. stay neck and just wondering if you had any thoughts either about that part of it like why
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you think it's valuable to have a graphical information or a book written by a scientist versus a journalist. >> i guess i'm the scientist. i am very grateful for those who can delve deeply into topics and bring them effectively to attention in ways that scientists aren't often very good app. on the other hand i think it's really important for scientists to become better communicators and writers. i think we need both in people who come from outside the sciences it can sometimes be difficult for those inside. there is definitely room for both. >> being an outsider i have a lot of -- as a layperson that was difficult.
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on the other hand i had the luxury of being able to see if perspective or history. someone who is a working scientist is certainly not going to have that luxury. there are going to be very profound in their research but may not know that experience began by using cow blood. i have practicing scientists and medical people who we didn't have time to learn that. you have all the human disease to deal with. i think that's an advantage. as for maybe giving too much to the biosphere hopefully we end up choosing scientists who are interesting. i want to write about them. they have stories to tell.
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>> things in themselves have stories and a scientist we haven't necessarily conveyed that effectively. >> signs science to mitigation is a big issue right now. chemists are saying exactly what marcia just said. scientists need to learn how to communicate better. i was trained in the sciences and i never was a practicing scientist. i went to journalism school and in journalism school i learned how to write. the story that we got in journalism school is a journalist can write about anything. a good journalist can do their homework and they can write about anything so you can write about politics. he can write about science. doesn't matter if you are a good journalist you would do a good job. at the time, this was 40 years ago i fundamentally disagreed with that analysis.
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now my views are moderated. i believe that the time because i was trained in the sciences that you have to know the sciences deeply if you wanted to write about them and what i saw in the daily press especially in the television press especially was the fundamentally flawed superficial treatment. this is not true of anyone on this panel by the way. the people on this panel right books and you can't the superficial and the look. the problems i had with the writer versus a scientist is that i think it's kind of a false dichotomy. there are scientists who are great writers and there are writers who are not scientists who great -- two great science books. there is no single answer in a bank. you want somebody who does their homework and knows their stuff and can speak authoritatively who does deep research but then
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you also want somebody who can write a book that's understandable and compelling that will ring you through to the end. where that comes from i don't care. i don't care if it's a writer or a scientist. i just wanted done accurately and completely and compelling way. >> i hope you guys have heard good stories here tonight. [applause] thank you for coming. one last note there's a book signing all in the session and area one which is mob -- marked on the map. there are volunteers here who can direct you there. books by the authors will be sold in a tent marked special seller of the signing area. thanks for coming and listening to facts. [inaudible conversations]
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