It was a Saturday afternoon, and I was sitting in
the living room recliner watching my normal morning cartoons while eating my bowl of Lucky Charms. All of a sudden, a newsflash appeared on my screen. A newscaster appeared and stated in a serious voice, “We interrupt this program for an important announcement. It has been discovered that a large meteor is traveling at a fast pace towards the Earth and has been calculated to hit the Earth at approximately 12:00pm, Tuesday. We urge everyone to move in a calm manner to a storm shelter or any other form of security.”
The Lucky Charms I had been chewing fall out of my mouth while the TV converts from the fear-inducing newscaster to Scooby Doo. I jump up in fear, and then embarrassingly realize that I had been dreaming. I sit down and wonder to myself, “What if that had really happened? What would I take with me?” In my opinion, medicine and electricity would be the most beneficial because of the advances and demands for the two ingenious discoveries.
One hundred fifty years ago, in the operating theater on the top floor of the MGH’s Bulfinch Building, one of the greatest moments in medicine occurred. On Oct. 16, 1846, William T.G. Morton, a Boston dentist, demonstrated the use of ether during surgery, ending the indescribable pain that had been associated with the surgeon’s knife. Using a specially designed glass inhaler containing an ether-soaked sponge, Morton administered the anesthetic to Gilbert Abbott, a printer who had come to the MGH for treatment of a vascular tumor on his jaw. After several minutes, Abbott was rendered unconscious. John Collins Warren, MD, one of the most widely recognized surgeons of that time, then surgically removed the tumor. Upon wakening, Abbott informed the curious and skeptical physicians and medical students in the theater that he had experienced no pain. If it wasn’t for a medical discovery like ether and other medicines, many would be experiencing the indescribably pain of the surgeon’s knife and some would own a gravestone. Through the Renaissance, both men and women practiced medicine. For most of history, the human heart has been regarded as a forbidden organ, too delicate to tamper with. It might have remained so, if not for World War II. Military doctors, facing injury and suffering on a massive scale, pioneered advances in antibiotics, anesthesia and blood transfusions — advances that would usher in the age of modern surgery.
In addition to medicine, I would include electricity. Electricity, like light, travels extremely fast at 300,000 kilometers per second. It flows easily through metal wires. In particular, copper and silver are very good conductors of electricity. Electricity also generates heat as it flows through most objects. It can be controlled and utilized easily using many different technologies. Electricity is very useful because it can be converted into many kinds of energy. Electricity can be converted in to light using light bulbs, and even heat by using heating coils. It can also be converted into motion or even stored chemical energy. Electricity is used everywhere; to produce goods, provide services, and transport materials and people. Electricity also is used in commerce, agriculture, medicine, communications, entertainment, and a variety of other areas. Expanded uses for electricity are constantly being developed. Not only does electricity provide energy, it also provides jobs. A total of 510,595 workers were employed by electric utilities at the end of 1990 in a wide variety of jobs. From repairing power lines, to providing information to electricity customers, to constructing new power plants. These developments are driven by technological advances that both improve traditional uses of electricity and create entirely new ones.
Because of the advances and demands for medicine and electricity, the great necessities would be beneficial to my survival. If it weren’t for people like Benjamin Franklin or William T.G. Morton, we would not have such luxuries as heat or light, or some would not be enjoying the breath of life. If you take medications and electricity out of this world, you take out our culture and way of life.