German chemist Gerhard Schrader was thrilled with his discovery in 1936: an insecticide able to destroy farm pests and protect crops. Years later, Schrader’s research into nerve agents would be used to murder millions of European Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and other innocent civilians. When the Nazi government became involved, the scientific discovery turned into a deadly political weapon.
Government doesn’t always bring out the worst in science, but it greatly influences the real-world effects of hours spent in the laboratory. In recent years, research by American chemist Douglas Neckers has led to the United States military’s development of blood stimulants that look and act like real blood. About 70 percent of deaths in combat are caused by blood loss in the first 30 minutes after injury, Neckers said, so the fake blood tricks the body until that person can get to a clinic.
Neckers, CEO of photochemical science business Spectra Group, Ltd., will discuss the relationship between science and government at 2 p.m. today in the Hall of Philosophy. His lecture is titled “Curiosity Didn’t Kill This Cat: Why Science Must be an American President’s Imperative.”Read more