The Word “Hero” Is Used Too Loosely

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Lebron James is a fantastic basketball player and Taylor Swift can sure sing, but are they heroes? For many people, athletes, movie stars, singers, politicians, and TV personalities are heroes. I know it’s subjective, in the eye of the beholder if you will, but maybe people have low standards.

I’m sure many of these mega stars are great people. Perhaps they donate tons of money to the poor. They may even dedicate their free time to working with and or visiting sick patients who look up to them. That’s very nice but lets put things into perspective.

Linn Enslow and Abel Wolman: These two devised a method of standardizing the use of chlorine to purify water. Chlorinated water has saved roughly 177,000,000 lives.

Edward Jenner: Not to be confused with Caitlin— this hero developed the small pox vaccine. 530,000,000 lives saved. Not bad, huh?

Karl Landsteiner and Richard Lewisohn: These two together brought us blood transfusions, and later, blood storage at blood banks. 1,094,000,000 lives saved. (Yep, that’s a billion)

Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch:  Have you ever heard of these two? Don’t worry, they’re not very important, they only created a capacity to sustain the world’s need for food production. They developed synthetic fertilizer saving 2,720,000,000 lives. (Again, that number is in the billions)

I watch football. Sometimes I’m wowed when I watch a quarterback rocket a pass between two defenders for a touchdown. It stops at wow though. I reserve the word “Hero” for more important people. People who truly change the world.

Science Heroes

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