12 Innocuous Facts About Jonas Salk

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Poliomyelitis, an infectious, potentially fatal disease that permanently paralyzed both children and adults, was once a serious problem in the United States. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was paralyzed due to polio, and almost 60,000 Americans were infected with polio in 1952. The disease inspired fear because there was no obvious way to prevent it, and it struck thousands of children. In 1955, though, virologist Jonas Salk became a worldwide hero when he developed the first effective polio vaccine. Here are a dozen facts about Salk, the Father of Biophilosophy.

1. HIS FATHER WAS A CLOTHING DESIGNER WITH LIMITED EDUCATION.

Salk’s father, Daniel, was the son of Jewish immigrants who came to America from Eastern Europe. Daniel graduated from elementary school but not high school, and he worked in the garment industry as a designer of women’s blouses. Salk’s mother, Dora, left Russia for the U.S. in 1901 and had no education. Because of their limited instruction, Salk’s parents encouraged him and his two younger brothers to further their schooling and advance in the world.

2. HE PLANNED TO BE A LAWYER AND SERVE IN CONGRESS.

In a 1991 interview with the Academy of Achievement, Salk revealed that he was not interested in science as a child. He entered college as a pre-law student, hoping to be elected to Congress one day. The reason he switched from pre-law to pre-med? "My mother didn't think I’d make a very good lawyer. And I believe that her reasons were that I couldn’t really win an argument with her," he explained.

3. HE WAS REJECTED FROM MULTIPLE LABS AFTER MEDICAL SCHOOL.

After graduating from medical school at New York University and completing his residency training, Salk applied to laboratories to work in medical research. Rather than treat patients as a practicing physician, Salk hoped to work on the influenza vaccine, a research area he began studying in medical school. Although he was rejected from multiple labs, perhaps due to quotas that discriminated against Jewish people, he didn’t get discouraged. "My attitude was always to keep open, to keep scanning. I think that's how things work in nature. Many people are close-minded, rigid, and that's not my inclination," he revealed in his Academy of Achievement interview.

4. THE MARCH OF DIMES FOUNDATION FUNDED HIS RESEARCH.

Salk worked on the influenza vaccine at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health until 1947, when he began running a lab at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The next year, he started working on a project for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (later renamed the March of Dimes Foundation) to research the different types of polio. Roosevelt created the foundation in 1938 to help other Americans suffering from polio, and the foundation funded many polio research and vaccine trials, including Salk’s.

5. HE TESTED THE POLIO VACCINE ON HIS OWN FAMILY.

In the early 1950s, Salk tested the polio vaccine he developed on monkeys, children in Pittsburgh, and himself. Strongly believing in the safety and efficacy of his vaccine, Salk also injected his wife, Donna, and their three sons [PDF] in the family’s kitchen, using syringes he had boiled on the stove. In 1953, Salk published the preliminary results of his human testing in the Journal of the American Medical Association. By June 1954, 1.8 million children and adults, dubbed polio pioneers, had volunteered to be injected with Salk’s vaccine (or a placebo) in a double-blind trial, sponsored by the March of Dimes. And on April 12, 1955, Salk’s vaccine was licensed. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, the media reported that Salk's national trial was a success, and crowds of ecstatic people celebrated the news.

6. OTHER SCIENTISTS CRITICIZED HIS NOVEL APPROACH TO VACCINES.

Although Salk was lauded as a savior and international hero, some of his fellow scientists didn’t feel the love. Polish-American scientist Albert Sabin loudly criticized Salk, calling him a kitchen chemist and trying to discredit his choice to use a killed polio virus (rather than a live or weakened one) in his vaccine. Sabin, as well as many of Salk’s contemporaries, incorrectly believed that a killed virus wouldn’t adequately immunize the patient. Additionally, a vaccine using a weakened polio virus might actually infect the patient with polio, and Salk didn’t want to take that risk. Other scientists resented Salk for succeeding outside the medical establishment and for getting all the accolades when he was just one of many researchers working on polio.

In 1962, Sabin introduced an oral (sugar cube) polio vaccine that contained a live (rather than killed) virus, and the U.S. government began using Sabin’s vaccine instead of Salk’s because it was cheaper and still effective. Today, a reformulated version of Salk’s vaccine is used in most parts of the world (except for parts of Africa and the Middle East where polio is still a problem, and where Sabin’s vaccine is used).

7. HE DIDN’T WANT TO FILE A PATENT FOR THE POLIO VACCINE.

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Salk didn’t directly profit from his polio vaccine because he didn’t file a patent for it. When a journalist asked him who owned the patent, Salk responded: "The people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?" Salk reportedly objected to owning the patent because millions of Americans had donated money to the March of Dimes, hoping to help eradicate polio. But according to U.S. patent law, the vaccine wasn’t novel enough to be patentable, so some scholars criticize Salk for presenting himself as an altruistic person when he was probably aware that the vaccine couldn’t be patented. Forbes estimates that had he owned the patent, Salk could have earned $7 billion.

8. HE DISLIKED BEING A PUBLIC FIGURE.

Although Salk quickly became a world hero, he didn’t enjoy losing his anonymity and gaining the responsibilities that came with being a public figure. "I felt myself very much like someone in the eye of a hurricane because all this swirling was going on around me. It was at that moment that everything changed," Salk recalled of becoming an overnight celebrity. Some scientists criticized him for hogging the international media spotlight, and the National Academy of Sciences and Nobel Prize Committee ignored him, perhaps because he had achieved success while working outside the scientific establishment.

9. HE WAS THE STEPFATHER OF PABLO PICASSO’S CHILDREN.

In 1970, Salk married Françoise Gilot, a French artist who had two children, Claude and Paloma, with Pablo Picasso. In an interview in 1980, Paloma remembered the fear people had of polio, and that as a child, she didn’t visit her father’s house in the South of France due to a polio outbreak. She also revealed that she got along well with her stepfather: "He’s very cute. He’s a wonderful person," she said. After his death in 1995, Gilot continued her late husband's legacy by working at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

10. HE TRIED TO DEVELOP CURES FOR CANCER AND AIDS.

After Salk developed the polio vaccine, he tried to develop vaccines for cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. Although he wasn’t ultimately successful, he did patent Remune, a vaccine for AIDS to delay the progression of HIV into AIDS. In 2001, six years after Salk died, Pfizer stopped funding clinical trials for Remune due to a lack of evidence that it worked.

11. HE WROTE A HANDFUL OF BOOKS ABOUT SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY.

Throughout the 1970s and '80s, Salk wrote books about science, philosophy, and mankind. In The Survival of the Wisest, Salk applied Charles Darwin’s ideas on survival of the fittest to the need for humankind to be educated and have knowledge. And in World Population and Human Values: A New Reality, he and his psychiatrist son, Dr. Jonathan Salk, discussed the interplay between world population growth and human values.

12. THE SALK INSTITUTE FOR BIOLOGICAL STUDIES CONTINUES HIS WORK.

In 1963, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies opened in La Jolla, California. Although Salk reportedly struggled with running the business side of the institute, he got funding from the March of Dimes Foundation and recruited Nobel Prize-winning scientists to investigate the biological aspects of cancer, AIDS, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. Designed by architect Louis Kahn, the institute continues to serve as a research center for immunology, neuroscience, and genetics.

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

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Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

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Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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11 Brilliant Gifts for the Cocktail Enthusiast in Your Life

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Libbey/Amazon

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Cocktails are an art form. Each drink has a unique history. Why does a margarita have salt? How is the garnish chosen for each drink, especially when you’re creating one spontaneously? What’s the best way to make an old fashioned? If there is someone in your life that has the answers to these questions, they are probably a cocktail enthusiast. This holiday season, treat that person to goodies that will help enhance their craft. 

1. Cocktail Shaker Set; $18

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Whether they like their drinks shaken or stirred, amateur mixologists can make all kinds of cocktails with this kit. It includes all the essential tools: a muddler, jigger, shaker, and more. They’ll feel like an expert in no time.

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2. The Carry On Cocktail Kit—Old Fashioned; $24

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For the traveler who demands a good drink, these kits come with everything but the booze. But if they are going to pack their own mini bottles, remind them to check the airline’s regulations—rules vary on whether it’s legal to drink your own booze in-flight. Also available in Moscow Mule, Champagne Cocktail, and Gin & Tonic.

Buy it: Amazon

3. The Spirit Infusion Kit; $42

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One of the best parts about making cocktails is that experimentation is rewarded. This infusion kit, including instruction and recipe book, bottle, strainers, and more, will help your cocktail enthusiast turn average vodka into a berry explosion or take tequila to the next level by infusing it with jalapeño peppers.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Tovolo Sphere Ice Molds; $10

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Instead of filling their glass with plain cubes, cocktail fans can use this set of two ice molds to craft spherical, uh, cubes. Each piece will melt slowly in a drink and add flair to their home bar. 

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5. The Bitter Truth Travelers Set; $20

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Any cocktail aficionado worth their salt should have a few bottles of bitters. To spice things up, give them this sampler set that includes five complex flavors: celery bitters, classic old time aromatic bitters, orange bitters, Creole bitters, and Jerry Thomas bitters.

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6. Homemade Gin Kit; $50

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Though some home bartenders have a house cocktail, few can say they make their gin in-house. Help your loved one mix it up and make 750 ml of homemade gin with this collection that includes one tin of juniper berries, one tin of the company's secret botanical blend, one stainless steel funnel, one fine stainless steel strainer, and two 375-ml glass bottles. All that’s missing is your giftee's label—time for them to brush up on those Photoshop skills.

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7. The Cocktail Chronicles: Navigating the Cocktail Renaissance with Jigger, Shaker, and Glass; $15

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Whether the recipient is a seasoned bartender or a cocktail newcomer, Imbibe editor Paul Clarke’s book has something for everyone. From modern cocktails to obscure classics, the snapshots in this 200-page book show how far the cocktail scene has come—and where it’s going.

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8. Glencairn Whisky Glass Set; $30

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Whiskey drinkers know that the type of glass can dramatically change the smell, taste, and experience of the drink. This set of four award-winning glasses would make any cocktail enthusiast swoon.

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9. Fancy Paper Straws; $5

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Almost any drink looks fancier with the addition of a patterned paper straw. Gussy up your loved ones' bars with a box of these beauties. The stocking stuffers are biodegradable, compostable, printed with food grade ink, and available in a variety of colors and patterns.

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10. Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail; $25

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This 416-page book should be a prerequisite for all science nerds who want to make better cocktails. Dave Arnold of Booker & Dax breaks down the facts and recipes to make any bar more interesting.

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11. Libbey Mixologist 18-Piece Cocktail Glass Set; $39

Amazon

If your cocktail enthusiast likes to experiment with different drinks, then they need the glasses that go with them. They can’t have a martini in a margarita glass, nor drink tequila from a whiskey balloon, after all. Libbey’s set will instantly upgrade their bar cart.

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Bonus: Vintage Fernet Poster; $50

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Bartenders call a shot of Fernet a "handshake." The bitter, minty liqueur is an acquired taste, but there's much to appreciate. Deck out the wall of the Fernet fan in your life with this reproduction vintage ad.

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