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Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Happy Accidents

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Happy Accidents

Serendipity in Modern Medical Breakthroughs

by Morton Meyers M.D.

Happy Accidents
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2007, 408 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2008, 408 pages

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Beyond the Book

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The word 'serendipity' was coined by Horace Walpole in the 1740s after reading the fable The Three Princes of Serendip (set in the land of Serendip, now known as Sri Lanka). Walpole also coined the misnomer 'malaria' which derives from the Italian mal aria (bad air).

Sulfanilamide was produced as an unwanted byproduct of the German dye industry for years before an accidental discovery showed it to be a very effective antibiotic. The researcher who discovered it in 1936 used it to successfully cure his six year old daughter from a life-threatening infection. The only catch is that he turned her skin a permanent lobster-red ...

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