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September 1961

The Physician and the Disc: Guest Editorial

Author Affiliations

University of California Medical School, San Francisco 22

Am J Dis Child. 1961;102(3):291-292. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1961.02080010293001

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In the search for new antibiotics, soil samples are collected all over the world for screening by pharmaceutical manufacturers. During the collection of such soil samples, a number of potsherds were recently found near Delphi, Greece, dating from the 6th century, b.c. Inscriptions on these potsherds—after missing fragments were added and proper translations were made—yielded the following interesting story.

Thales was worried. The physician paced back and forth in the halls of the society of Aesculapios and thought about the plague of dripping noses, coughs, and aching bones that had swept through his community in recent weeks. He had treated patients as best he could, but he was not certain that any herb had changed the course of the illness. Was he giving proper treatment? Should he invoke the oracle for guidance?

Suddenly the physician was joined by a clean-cut young man, not of his acquaintance, who addressed him politely.

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