This Week in Science History: 1-11-10

By Peter Dearden 04/11/2010

This week in Science History
Megan Leask, PhD Student, Laboratory for Evolution and Development

Polio Virus is Crystallized — 1955

In 1955, on the 2nd of November American sciemtists Carlton Schwerdt and F.L. Schaffer crystallized the polio virus. This was the first animal virus to be obtained in crystalline form. (The first plant virus, tobacco mozaic virus, had been crystallized in 1935 by W.M. Stanley.) Each virus crystal is composed of many thousands of virus particles. Virus preparations pure enough to crystallize usually provide the best material for chemical study. The crystallized form was used to split the virus into infectious and non-infectious parts. Their research laid the groundwork for the polio vaccine.

Émile Roux – Died 3 Nov 1933 (born 17 Dec 1853)

Émile Roux was a French bacteriologist who began working with Louis Pasteur in 1878. He was noted for his work on diphtheria. In 1888, Roux and Alexandre Yersin isolated a soluble toxin from cultures of diphtheria. The bacterium itself, though only found in the throat, can destroy tissues and organs throughout the body, thus they proposed that a chemical toxin was responsible. They filtered diphtheria cultures to remove the bacteria and then used the remaining fluid filtrate into healthy animals. As expected the animals showed diphtheria lesions but without any obvious presence of bacteria thus demonstrating that a toxin is the active agent causing diphtheria. Émile Roux became director of Pasteur Institute at Paris in 1904.

Nature — The First Publication

In 1869, on the 4th of November, the first issue was published of the journal Nature, edited by astronomer Sir Norman Lockyer. The first issue included articles on astronomy, plants, moths, science teaching in schools, an obituary for Thomas Graham, paleontology and meeting notices. Nature remains one of the most popular and well respected science journals in the world, printing research articles from across a wide range of scientific fields.

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