Tuesday, May 13, 2014

This Day in Science History - May 13 - Ronald Ross

Malaria has been a problem for people for all of history. It usually causes symptoms a lot like flu, fevers, chills and nausea--even causing death. The term malaria or mal aria means "bad air". Medieval doctors thought there was something in the air that causes the disease.

On May 13, 1857, Ronald Ross was born. Ross was an Anglo-Indian physician who discovered malaria is caused by the parasite Plasmodium. This parasite would be spread by mosquito bites. A female mosquito would bite an infected animal or person, get infected itself, and infect everyone it bit afterwords. Describing the life-cycle of Plasmodium would earn Ross the 1902 Nobel Prize in Medicine.

1975 - Marguerite Catherine Perey died.

Perey was a French physicist who discovered the element francium. She found the elusive element while investigating lanthanum samples. Francium is produced by the alpha disintegration of actinium and has a very short half-life of only 22 minutes.

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