Daily Archives: September 28, 2011

Which came first: round the world flight or penicillin?

I have a feed to This Day in History in the column to the right.  Today I found out the following.

Round The World Flight ( 1924 ) :

Two U.S. Army planes landed in Seattle, Washington. completing the first round-the-world flight in 175 days.

New York Times has this today: Sept. 28, 1924 | First Around-the-World Flights Touch Down in Seattle, and from reading the article I then followed the link in it and found out that on this day in 1787 – Congress voted to send the Constitution to state legislatures for their approval.

So the answer to the question in the title is Round the World Flight happened before Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin.  Before penicillin there were only sulfa drugs.  Flemings discovery replaced sulfa drugs and led the way to other forms of antibiotics that have saved the lives of what has to be millions of people around the world.  Stop and think about the difference that drug has made. 

Alexander Fleming – 28th September ( 1928 ) :

While working at his laboratory at St Mary’s Hospital, London Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin by accident when he noticed that many of his culture dishes were contaminated with a fungus that had a positive anti bacterial effect on multiple organisms providing the basic block for the start of modern antibiotics.

Short bio can be found here: Alexander Fleming he also won a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1945 for his discovery of penicillin.  He is credited with the following quote: “One sometimes finds what one is not looking for.”

Image of the week: penicillin production, 20th Century amazing picture of glass flasks and milk churns which was state of the art production, then consider what we expect today…

I thought it was bizarre that the flight round the world happened in 1924, just 21 one years after the Wright brothers made the first human-powered flight, and 4 years before Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928, and that it would take until after WWII for mass production of the drug, and that penicillin wasn’t used in the US until 1942 – 14 years after the discovery. 

Seems like not much has changed, things that make life easier or can be used in wars have monies spent developing them and everyone jumps on board the band wagon, but funding for disease and drug research doesn’t seem to have the same priority level in the general public or elected government representatives minds.


Posted by on September 28, 2011 in Uncategorized