Seven Wonders of Medicine

Seven Wonders of Medicine

By: Karen Gunnison Ballen
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books
Publicatin Date: January 2010
ISBN: 978-0761342397
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: March 25, 2010

Herodotus once made a list of seven wonders of the ancient world, a list that many travelers tucked in their minds, vowing one day to visit them. Lists of wonderful, wondrous things abound, but in this book you will be taking a look at seven wonders in the field of medicine, which can loosely be defined as “the act and science of healing.” In your journey through this book you will get a chance to explore and discover the wonders of microscopy, antibiotics, organ transplants, nanomedicine, vaccinations, insulin, and genomes. Past medical discoveries may be credited with your very existence and future ones may keep you alive and healthy much longer than you ever expected. Stories and vignettes you read in this book may astound you!

When you read about microscopes, you learn about the misconceptions people once had about how disease was spread. They actually thought “diseases were a punishment from God.” You’ll meet the inventors and can follow the progression of discovery from simple lenses to the scanning tunneling microscope. The history of vaccinations will amaze you when you read about the practice of variolation, when you meet up with Edward Jenner, Louis Pasteur and his inept assistant who did us all a favor. If you know someone with diabetes, you will be interested in learning about how the unusually interesting discovery of what caused the disease was made and how insulin was discovered. The reader will get a chance to see photographs of two of the first young people who survived because of the discovery.

At one point in time “more soldiers died from illnesses and infections than bullets.” You’ll meet Alexander Fleming and learn about his famous “mold juice” and René Dubo’s discovery of “bacteria in soil that made an antibiotic.” You’ll also meet other scientists who worked on antibiotics, “a powerful weapon against disease,” and other lifesaving drugs. You’ll learn about the history of major organ transplants, Dr. Christian Barnard, and problems people had when they thought “science was moving faster” than they could accept it. You’ll get to see a photograph of an Organ Care System and learn about its amazing function.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Gregor Mendel and his pea plant study. The progress made in the world of genetics since then would astound him. You’ll learn about DNA, how it can give some people “wrong instructions” that cause diseases, and you’ll learn about what the term human genome means. You’ll be able to take a close look at the Human Genome project, learn how they isolated genes and how they actually mapped more than 20,000 genes in the human body. Last, but certainly not least you’ll learn about the world of nanomedicine. This futuristic medicine may one day help in such things as the diagnoses of diabetes, help with cancer treatment and do incredible things like regenerate bone on nanotubes.

This incredible look at past, present and the future of medical wonders will WOW the young science afficionado. This is the type of book that easily lends itself further student research for a report or may even spark a career interest in medicine. The illustrations, photographs, microphotographs, and very informative sidebars were plentiful and extremely fascinating. In addition to the well-researched material and excellent writing, I thought the layout of the book was quite appealing. The sidebars were well positioned and I was able to stop and read them without totally losing my place in the text. In the back of the book is a timeline, a glossary and pronunciation guide, an excellent index, and many additional recommended book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: A fascinating look at the history of medicine, aimed at the 9-12 year-old reader.

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