Monday, October 12, 2009

Courage And Persistence In Discovery

When Columbus sailed the ocean blue the best minds of Europe were pretty sure the world was round. Now, of course, it's politically incorrect to say the man discovered anything. But he changed everything. By articulating a hypothesis, designing a study, applying for funding, conducting an experiment, and publishing the findings, he blunted the edge of the Flat Earth for once and for all.

So he was wrong about the Indians. So he came home without the spices. So we've sometimes evilly exploited the place and lately taken to using it as a base to bomb the Moon. Not his fault.

In our exploration of off-label and investigational indications for hyperbaric oxygen therapy, we're ever mindful of the hard work and long patience good research demands. It's a vital if sometimes thankless pursuit. (No bucks, no Buck Rogers.) But true healing begins with true understanding. Take the all-too-recent discovery that H. pylori, not stress, causes most peptic ulcers. Or last week's startling and welcome news that a contagious retrovirus XMRV, not some imaginary yuppie flu, may be the chief cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. All of a sudden medical science can locate 1 to 4 million Americans with CFS on the map. A voyage of discovery ends, a New World of hope begins. O Happy Day, Christopher and everyone.

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