The Antibiotic Arms Race
Antibiotics are probably the most important medical advance of the 20th century. Medical professionals at the time chronicled the transformation: You had patients who were choking to death with pneumonia or wasting away with tuberculosis, and then suddenly, a few days later, they were cured. If you're a fan of the James Herriot books about working as a veterinarian in 1930s Yorkshire, you'll already have a sense of what I mean. This scientific advancement, in practice, looked like magic.
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