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Britain in the XX century

Who is the most famous amateur of English literature? - Sherlock Holmes

The other specific feature of English life is the combination of conservatism and progressism.

On the one hand England is the country which gave the great quantity of discoveries and inventions. The most challenging forms of youth culture, punks, for example, appeared in Britain.

On the other hand the British are known for thorough preserving of their traditions. Scrupulous following to the established rules is the typical feature of English culture. In the end of the XIX century a society appeared the members of which swore not to use the achievements of modern techniques. It has been existed till now. The members of a society don’t go by cars or buses, don’t use electricity at homes – only candels. For the telephone call people are dismissed from the society.

2 – One more typical feature of English mind is rather cool attitude to children and enormous love to animals

It is considered, that unlimited display of parental love harms children's character. The perambulator with a baby during the walk should be put so that baby’s crying wouldn’t be heard by mother and make her calm him. A person should solve his own problems since his baby years independently

On the other hand the Englishmen are distinguished with their special love to pets. Here an example told by the Japanese announcer of BBC, who worked in Britain. He invited his colleagues to his home. After that he felt their cool attitude to him. He could find out the reason much later. He offered one of his guests to sit down in an armchair. But it was occupied by his cat. The Japanese turned it out making place empty for his guest. For the Englishmen such treatment with a pet was impossible

Some foreigners consider the famous English love to animals to compensate the cool attitude to children. Love to animals give emotions the expression of which is prohibited by the cultural tradition

3) Discovery of Fleming

The greatest achievement of the British science in the XX century was the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming. This discovery started the era of antibiotics. It was one of the main reasons which increased the length of the human life.

By the end of the XIX century the highest length was in Sweden47 years, in Britain – 42, in Russia27. The modern Western Europeans live about 80. The length grew twice. Antibiotics played the big role in that.

Fleming was born in Scotland in the place of swamps and moorlands. He was the 8-th child in the family of a farmer. When he was 5 he began attending school together with his senior brothers and sisters. The way passed through the moorlands. If the weather was cold mother used to give each child two potatoes, so that they could warm their hands during the way. On coming to school the children ate the potatoes. Fleming wrote further, that the long and monotone way taught him observing.

In the age of 13 he moved to London to his cousin who was going to become a doctor. Fleming tried many jobs. He even served in a Scottish battlement. It was the famous battlement, which guards the Buckingham palace of the English queen. In the age of 22 he became the medical student of London University. He wasn’t almost preparing for exams, he was going to enter the University many years after school. In spite of all these he passed his exams best of all thanks to the extremely original answers. The commission appreciated his originality. For the main part of his life Fleming worked in the laboratory of St Mary’s hospital. And his discovery happened there in 1928.

The legend says, that there were 2 reasons of Fleming’s discovery: his untidiness and his luck. The biologists use the cups with germ cultures. The other researchers in the laboratory washed the cups after the work. But Fleming didn’t. He hadn’t been washing the cups for 2 or 3 weeks till his table was covered with 40 – 50 dirty cups. Then he had nothing to do except washing. Once he went for a two-weak leave. He hadn’t washed anything before. His table stayed untidy. When he came back he found an unusual mould in one of the cups. It destroyed the gems which had been put into the cup before. The mould almost dissolved them.

Fleming used the microscope and determined the kind of the mould. It was called Penicillium notatum in Latin, which means “the brushes of nuts”.

The mould was very rare. It was unclear where it had appear from. It is being unclear till nowadays. Somebody tells, it flew through the window. Somebody tells, it appeared from the neighbor laboratory.

There was an extra condition which caused the discovery: the whims of London weather. While Fleming was on his holidays, he was absent for a long. It grew colder in London, and the cold weather made good conditions for the growth of the mould. Then it grew warmer, and the warm weather made good conditions for the growth of germs. The unique combination of the rare mould and changeable weather had caused the discovery.

But the biographers of Fleming don’t agree with the version, that he was untidy and it was an occasional luck. They say that there was another reason why he used to keep his table untidy. It was the result of his scientific philosophy. He believed that a researcher should be a very intent (пристальный), very attentive observer. He shouldn’t only follow his plans, but also be ready and attentive for all unexpected phenomena. That’s why he kept his table untidy. He thought that something unexpected can grow once in his dirty cups. And before washing them he used to search for something interesting. So it may be told that the discovery of penicillin was not only occasional. It came to researcher who deserved the result.

The observations showered that the mould of penicillin destroys germs but doesn’t do any harm for people. The next problem was to select the pure acting substance from the mould in order to bring it into the blood of ill man. Fleming couldn’t do it himself, because he was not a biochemist. He had to find biochemists who would do it. But he failed. None wanted to do this work.

The reason was that the scientists knew the similar substances for a long time. These substances destroyed germs but they damaged people at the same time. That’s why nobody promised Fleming and wanted to work with him.

Fleming was very unhappy then. He felt that he had made a great discovery but nobody promised him. In the situation of fail each Briton tries to go in for his hobby. And Fleming did the same. He took up germ painting. He painted with the colonies of germs of different colours. In some time the germs moved and the outlines of the objects lost their shape.

Many years passed. Fleming had become a Noble prize winner and the queen visited his laboratory. For her visit Fleming painted the British flag of the germs. But the queen didn’t like it. She considered germs not to be the best material for the British flag.

The chemists got interested in penicillin when ten years had passed after Fleming’s discovery. They worked in Oxford. Their names were Chain and Flory. The author of the discovery was forgotten. When Fleming learnt about the work of the chemists in Oxford he went there. They were surprised very much. They thought he had died long ago.

They three began working together. The pure substance of penicillin was selected. At that period the II World War started. Britain was waiting for the German invasion. The scientists decided to save penicillin at any circumstances. They saturated their clothes with the penicillin mould. Even if one of them survived, he could grow the mould.

The Germans didn’t invade. But the new problem had appeared. The businessmen, the pharmaceutical industry didn’t want to start the production of the new medicine. Chain and Flory managed to persuade American government. It made a unique step. 9 plants were built by the government and presented to the private businessmen on the condition that they would produce penicillin. Since 1943 penicillin was used at the fronts. It saved millions of lives. Each 10th German wounded solder perished of gangrene, and in the alliance army almost none.

There was one more result of the Fleming’s discovery. Antibiotics brought a great profit to their produces. This money gave possibilities for other researches and a lot of synthetic medicines were elaborated.

So it may be told that Alexander Fleming was not only the father of penicillin and antibiotics but also the father of modern pharmaceutical industry.

Fleming together with Chain and Flory became Noble prize winners in 1945. Fleming was burried in Westminster Abby near Newton. There are 2 flowers depicted on his tomb: thistle – the emblem of Scotland and lily – the emblem of St. Mary hospital where he had worked through all his life.


Категория: Лекции по истории Англии | Добавил: Senebty (10.02.2018)
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