Science Diction: The Origin Of ‘Antibiotic’

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Friday, February 11th, 2011

Selman Waksman, the microbiologist who discovered streptomycin, first used the word antibiotic in the medical sense in 1943. Science historian Howard Markel talks about how it was actually a Naval officer who first coined antibiotic in 1860, to describe an opposition to the belief in life beyond Earth.

Antibiotics, one of the great miracles of modern medicine, are drugs or chemicals, typically of microbial origin, that inhibit the growth or metabolic activities of bacteria and other microorganisms. Selman Waksman, the microbiologist who discovered streptomycin, first applied the word in this fashion in 1943….

Read more and listen to the episode at ScienceFriday.com

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