Beyond pharmacy blog
All posts from: April 2009
Always on the lookout for the odd, the quirky and the plain wacky, Merlin recently came across the sport of flounder tramping.
The throw-away society does not appeal to Merlin, who tends to hang on to things long after they become obsolete. Thus it is that, in addition to a modern scientific calculator, Merlin has in his desk drawer a Hewlett Packard HP41 calculator, purchased over 30 years ago. It still works, but the batteries, an odd size, are not easy to come by.
[img_assist|nid=962284|title=Willem Kolff (Callie Jones)|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=170|height=241]These days, renal dialysis is regarded as a routine, albeit lifesaving, procedure. The honour of performing the first renal dialysis goes to George Haas (1886–1971) who worked in Giessen, Germany, and who used goldbeaters’ skin as a membrane in experiments with animal blood.
Occasionally over the years, including twice so far this year, I have noticed the word “pruritis” in The Journal. The spelling should, of course, be “pruritus”, which is Latin for “itch”.
Today, 25 April (2009), is a great day for anyone mad about ship canals. It was on this day 50 years ago that the first ships passed through the St Lawrence Seaway and on this day 150 years ago that work began on the Suez Canal.
[img_assist|nid=885430|title=Early Egyptian wine jar with lid (Callie Jones)|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=200|height=138]Thanks to the discovery of medical papyri dating back as far as about 1850BC, we have long known that the pharmacopoeia of the ancient Egyptians depended largely on alcoholic beverages, tree resins and herbs.
[img_assist|nid=884474|title=Henry VIII|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=200|height=283]Henry VIII ascended the throne of England 500 years ago on 22 April 1509. He was just 17 years and 10 months old at the time. His coronation took place on 24 June 1509, a few days after his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.
It was in 1817 that a London doctor, James Parkinson, published “An essay on the shaking palsy” and established Parkinson’s disease as a recognised medical condition. The French neurologist Jean Martin Charcot named the disease after him 60 years later.
Although Henry VIII had his own large and comprehensive library, he may also have known about the Red Book of Hergest. The book’s name is derived from its red leather cover and its association with Hergest Court (Plas Hergest), where it was kept from about 1465 until the beginning of the 17th century.
Barcodes were developed by Norman Woodland and Bernard Silver, graduates at the Philadelphia Drexel Institute of Technology, in response to a request by a chain store owner for an automated checkout method for reading product information.The inspiration came from Morse code; the dots and dashes were simply extended downwards to make machine-readable representation of data.
The humble pencil is an unlikely reason for armed guards, skirmishes, smuggling and an Act of Parliament. As early as 1500 an enormous deposit of graphite — the allotrope of carbon used as pencil “lead” — was discovered in the Lake District at Seathwaite Fell near Borrowdale.
[img_assist|nid=883118|title=The Silk Road (Callie Jones)|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=225|height=159]The Silk Road was a network of trade routes that for 2,000 years linked China with the West.
Scientists have come up with a bona fide excuse for failing to notice your partner’s new hairdo. “Hair blindness” affects some people in the same way that others have trouble recognising faces.Brad Duchaine, a cognitive neuroscientist who works extensively with people affected by face blindness, or prosopagnosia, noticed that his subjects use hair to recognise people.
Today, 4 April (2009), is the first day of National Pet Month. Pharmacists with an interest in veterinary health might use this awareness month to promote their skills and services, while others could use it to promote the health benefits of keeping a pet.
[img_assist|nid=882229|title=Stanley Gibbons (Callie Jones)|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=200|height=276]Taking up a hobby might be one suggestion for tackling the workplace pressures highlighted in the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s current campaign, but a certain Herbert C. Raubenheimer thought of it first.
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