Other Events, deaths, births, of 23 Oct
On a 23 October:
1958 The Nobel Literature Prize announced for Boris Pasternak “for his important achievement both in contemporary lyrical poetry and in the field of the great Russian epic tradition”
But the Soviet regime forces him to refuse the award.
     This year's Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded by the Swedish Academy to the Soviet Russian writer, Boris Pasternak, for his notable achievement in both contemporary poetry and the field of the great Russian narrative tradition.
      As is well known, Pasternak has sent word that he does not wish to accept the distinction. This refusal, of course, in no way alters the validity of the award. There remains only for the Academy, however, to announce with regret that the presentation of the Prize cannot take place.
      On October 25, 1958, two days after the official communication from the Swedish Academy that Boris Pasternak had been selected as the Nobel Prize winner in literature, the Russian writer sent the following telegram to the Swedish Academy: Immensely thankful, touched, proud, astonished, abashed. This telegram was followed, on October 29, by another one with this content: Considering the meaning this award has been given in the society to which I belong, I must reject this undeserved prize which has been presented to me. Please do not receive my voluntary rejection with displeasure.

Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (1890-1960), born in Moscow, was the son of talented artists: his father a painter and illustrator of Tolstoy's works, his mother a well-known concert pianist. Pasternak's education began in a German Gymnasium in Moscow and was continued at the University of Moscow. Under the influence of the composer Scriabin, Pasternak took up the study of musical composition for six years from 1904 to 1910. By 1912 he had renounced music as his calling in life and went to the University of Marburg, Germany, to study philosophy. After four months there and a trip to Italy, he returned to Russia and decided to dedicate himself to literature.
      Pasternak's first books of verse went unnoticed. With Sestra moya zhizn (My Sister Life), 1922, and Temy i variatsii (Themes and Variations), 1923, the latter marked by an extreme, though sober style, Pasternak first gained a place as a leading poet among his Russian contemporaries.
      In 1924 he published Vysokaya bolezn (Sublime Malady), which portrayed the 1905 revolt as he saw it, and Detstvo Lyuvers (The Childhood of Luvers), a lyrical and psychological depiction of a young girl on the threshold of womanhood. A collection of four short stories was published the following year under the title Vozdushnye puti (Aerial Ways).
      In 1927 Pasternak again returned to the revolution of 1905 as a subject for two long works: Leytenant Shmidt, a poem expressing threnodic sorrow for the fate of Lieutenant Schmidt, the leader of the mutiny at Sevastopol, and Devyatsot pyaty god (The Year 1905), a powerful but diffuse poem which concentrates on the events related to the revolution of 1905.
      Pasternak's reticent autobiography, Okhrannaya gramota (Safe Conduct), appeared in 1931, and was followed the next year by a collection of lyrics, Vtoroye rozhdenie (Second Birth), 1932.
      In 1935 he published translations of some Georgian poets and subsequently translated the major dramas of Shakespeare, several of the works of Goethe, Schiller, Kleist, and Ben Jonson, and poems by Petöfi, Verlaine, Swinburne, Shelley, and others.
      Na rannikh poyezdakh (In Early Trains), a collection of poems written since 1936, was published in 1943 and enlarged and reissued in 1945 as Zemnye prostory (Wide Spaces of the Earth).
      In 1957 Doktor Zhivago, Pasternak's only novel - except for the earlier "novel in verse", Spektorsky (1926) - first appeared in an Italian translation and has been acclaimed by some critics as a successful attempt at combining lyrical-descriptive and epic-dramatic styles.
      An autobiographical sketch, Biografichesky ocherk (An Essay in Autobiography), was published in 1959, first in Italian, and subsequently in English. Pasternak lived in Peredelkino, near Moscow, until his death in 1960.

1952 The Nobel Medicine Prize to Waksman         ^top^
“for his discovery of streptomycin, the first antibiotic effective against tuberculosis”
Nobel Lecture.

     Shortly after the discovery of the tubercle bacillus by Robert Koch in 1882 a search was made for an effective therapeutic agent against this germ. Eight years later Koch announced that he had succeeded in isolating a substance from tubercle-bacilli medium which he had found to be effective against tuberculous diseases. This substance is now known as tuberculin. Physicians throughout the world were most optimistic about this latest discovery by Koch, but this early optimism was soon dispelled when it was found that Koch's results could not be reproduced by other workers, and some of these workers found that tuberculin was dangerous when used in large doses.
      A similar picture has occurred with all subsequent anti-tuberculous remedies. I will recall the short-lived triumph of sanocrysin and the sulpha compounds, promin, promizol, and diazone which were used in the States during the War and which were received at first with great enthusiasm. It is therefore quite natural for physicians to be sceptical when they heard that a new anti-tuberculous remedy called «streptomycin» had been produced in the United States in 1943. A decade has almost passed since this discovery and experiences from the whole world has proven that we have at last the first effective remedy against tuberculosis.
      In contrast to the discovery of penicillin by Professor Fleming which was largely due to a matter of chance, the isolation of streptomycin has been the result of a long-term, systematic and assiduous research by a large group of workers. The initiator and leader of this group was Dr. Waksman. Dr. Waksman is the microbiologist at the Agricultural Department of Rutger's University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and has been actively engaged on research work on soil microbes for many years, including their synergistic and antagonistic fight for existence. In 1939, i.e. one year before the rediscovery of penicillin by Florey and Chain, Dr. Waksman started an extensive programme of study which was aimed at determining the nature of the substance by which the various soil microbes destroyed each other. He had been interested in the actinomycetes for a quarter of a century, and it was only natural that he should first turn his attention to these microbes. In 1915 Dr. Waksman and one of his assistants had isolated from the soil a strain of actinomycete which they called Actinomyces griseus. This name was changed to Streptomyces griseus in 1943 and under this name it has now become world renowned. It is from a strain of this species that streptomycin is produced. Dr. Waksman had shown that of the microbes, Streptomyces was best able to survive when the living conditions in the soil became unsatisfactory, and this was an additional reason for commencing with the Streptomyces.
      It has been known for a long time that the tubercle bacillus is rapidly destroyed in the soil. In 1932 Dr. Waksman was entrusted by the American National Association against Tuberculosis to make an investigation into this matter. He was able to confirm earlier observations and concluded that the disappearance of the tubercle bacilli in the soil was probably due to the influence of other antagonistic microbes. At that time the word antibiotic had not been coined. It was Dr. Waksman who introduced the new word «antibiotic», and it represents an antibacterial substance, produced by a microbe which is antagonstic in action to another.
      In 1940 Dr.Waksman and his collaborator had succeeded in isolating the first antibiotic, which was called «actinomycin» and it was very toxic. In 1942 another antibiotic was detected and studied, called «streptothricin». This had a high degree of activity against many bacteria and also against the tubercle bacillus. Further studies revealed that streptothricin was too toxic. During the streptothricin studies Dr. Waksman and his collaborators developed a series of test-methods, which turned out to be very useful in the isolation of streptomycin in 1943.
      Encouraged by the discovery of streptothricin and stimulated by the triumphal development of penicillin treatment, the research team headed by Dr.Waksman continued their untiring search for new antibiotic-producing microbes. Before the discovery of streptomycin no less than 10'000 different soil microbes had been studied for their antibiotic activity. Dr. Waksman directed this work and distributed the various lines of research among his young assistants. One of these was Albert Schatz, who had previously worked with Dr. Waksman for 2 months and in June 1943 returned to the laboratory. Dr. Waksman gave him the task of isolating new species of Actinomyces. After a few months he isolated two strains of Actinomyces which were shown to be identical with Streptomyces griseus, discovered by Dr. Waksman in 1915. In contrast to the previous one the rediscovered microbe was shown to have antibiotic activity. To this antibiotic Dr. Waksman gave the name «streptomycin». He studied the antibiotic effect of streptomycin with Schatz and Bugie and found that it was active against several bacteria including the tubercle bacillus. These preliminary studies were completed in a relatively short time, thanks to the clear principles which had been set out previously by Dr. Waksman for the study of streptothricin.
      The subsequent testing of streptomycin as an anti-tuberculosis remedy was entrusted to two physicians, Feldman and Hinshaw, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. From experiences with sulpha compounds they had developed a reliable research technique. As a result of very promising work with experimental tuberculosis in guinea pigs, Feldman and Hinshaw considered it appropriate to try its activity in human tuberculosis. They selected a series of cases in which spontaneous recovery was regarded as hopeless. The most surprising result was the apparent curative action of streptomycin in two extremely severe cases of tuberculous diseases, viz. tuberculous meningitis and miliary [= “like millet seeds”] tuberculosis. Encouraged by this experience they ventured to treat more benign and recent cases of tuberculosis and these were improved considerably.
      In the meantime Dr. Waksman and his associates continued with their researches. They found that different strains of Streptomyces griseus varied in their capacity to produce antibiotic substances. Out of all isolated strains of this microbe, only four were adapted for the production of streptomycin on a large scale. Streptomyces griseus grows on many different media, but streptomycin can only be produced under certain conditions. Dr. Waksman and his co-workers made preliminary chemical studies in order to determine the formula of streptomycin. The great work of Folkers and Wintersteiner in this field of research gave us the chemical formula, which led to the isolation of streptomycin in pure form.
      The activity of streptomycin is principally bacteriostatic, i.e. it checks the bacterial growth and is in some degree also bacteriolytic, i.e. it destroys the tubercle bacillus. The mechanism of this important antibacterial effect is not yet known.
      At the present time streptomycin has had such a widespread and a long trial throughout the world that it is now possible to form a fair opinion of its therapeutic value. The most sensational effect is seen in the treatment of miliary tuberculosis and tuberculous meningitis. The former had previously had a fatal outcome with few exceptions and meningitis has always been fatal. Nowadays the prognosis is far better, thanks to streptomycin. The immediate result with streptomycin treatment of tuberculous meningitis can be dramatic; patients that are unconscious and have a high fever may improve rapidly after administering the drug. The ultimate result in such severe cases is not so satisfactory. The earlier the streptomycin treatment is started the greater the chance of recovery. The outcome of streptomycin treatment is therefore dependent on an early diagnosis of the tuberculous disease. This circumstance can explain the great difference in the reported results by different workers, ranging from 75% recoveries in the most favourable cases to 20% in the more severe. Miliary tuberculosis is more amenable to streptomycin treatment than meningitis. According to recent experiences one can reckon with a definite healing in about 80%.
      Early cases of pulmonary tuberculosis may be successfully treated with streptomycin. In cases of pulmonary tuberculosis suitable for surgery, streptomycin has proved a very valuable supplement. By means of streptomycin it has been possible to transform patients into a suitable condition for operation, which before streptomycin treatment would have been considered impossible. In the treatment of tuberculosis of the genito-urinary tract and in bone and joint tuberculosis, streptomycin has been of considerable value. Thanks to the possibility of pre- and postoperative chemotherapy, new and more conservative principles for the surgical treatment have been applied with success.
      Streptomycin is not altogether a harmless remedy, but with greater experience with this antibiotic, methods have been devised to minimize this effect. The untoward effects that have been reported previously, viz. damage to the vestibular and auditory nerves, have been greatly reduced or abolished by using purified streptomycin, smaller doses and shorter periods of treatment. These side-effects cannot be regarded nowadays as a contraindication to streptomycin treatment.
      Another complication is the development of strains of bacteria that become more and more resistant to streptomycin. This very important question has been studied in many centres, and different ways have been tried to prevent the development of streptomycin-resistant bacteria. It has been shown that in combination with other anti-tuberculous compounds, especially PAS, the chemotherapeutic remedy detected by the Swedish biochemist Lehmann, the development of streptomycin resistance is delayed.
      This summany has dealt almost exclusively on streptomycin as an anti-tuberculous remedy, because it is this which has earned the Nobel Prize. However, streptomycin has a much more extensive antibacterial action and has been successfully used against a large number of the common pathogenic bacteria, including several not affected by penicillin. The value of streptomycin as a remedy against infectious diseases in humans is therefore much greater than may appear from this presentation of its antituberculous effect.
      By the discovery of streptomycin Dr. Waksman and his collaborators have made a very important contribution to the history of medicine. Even if streptomycin is not the perfect anti-tuberculous remedy, its introduction nevertheless signifies a gigantic step forward. Above all, its isolation has suggested procedures for future investigations that may guarantee fundamental results. One may hope that this approach will lead in the near future to the eagerly expected goal, viz. a remedy that will make possible the eradication of tuberculous disease.
      The Caroline Medical Institute has awarded to Professor Selman Waksman the 1952 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, for his ingenious, systematic and successful studies of the soil microbes that have led to the discovery of streptomycin, the first antibiotic remedy against tuberculosis. Neither is he a physiologist nor a physician, but still his contribution to the advancement of medicine has been of paramount importance. Streptomycin has already saved thousands of human lives. Physicians regard Waksman as one of the greatest benefactors to mankind.

1905 Birth of a 1952 Nobel Physics laureate,
Felix Bloch
received the award jointly with Edward Mills Purcell “for their development of new methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements and discoveries in connection therewith.”

The scientific study of magnetism in the sense in which we understand it, was begun only with the publication in London of Gilbert's work De Magnete in the year 1600 A.D. The subsequent investigation and classification of magnetic substances led to their division into three categories: the ferromagnetics or strong magnetics such as iron, cobalt and nickel; the paramagnetic or weak magnetics, including chiefly crystals and fluids; and finally the diamagnetics, with their magnetic repulsion, a property intrinsic in all substances. A compass needle made of a diamagnetic substance turns at right angles to the magnetic lines of force, and thus comes to point in an east-westerly direction. Fortunately, diamagnetism is too weak to cause shipwreck in this way. This wealth of magnetic is today joined by a fourth category, the nuclear magnetism deriving from the atomic nucleus. The magnetic field radiating from the infinitesimally tiny atomic nucleus is so feeble that its existence was still scarcely more than divined only fifteen or twenty years ago. Thus when Bloch and Purcell, this year's Nobel Prize winners in Physics, are able to register nuclear magnetism with a precision exceeding almost all other measurements in physics, one supposes that this must be thanks to the use of special methods and accessories.
      But what interest or useful purpose may conceivably be served by such subtleties? If we consider the methods that have been employed, we soon recognize the idea that runs through all more advanced measurements of a body's magnetic moments. Thus the celebrated German mathematician and physicist, Karl Friedrich Gauss, determined in 1836 the magnetic moment of thc compass needle in relation to its moment of inertia, simply by observing the oscillations of the needle in a magnetic field of known strength. Now the electrons or the atomic nucleus do not, it is true, behave in quite the same way as the compass needle in the magnetic field, but rather in the manner of the top, the gyroscope, which spins and precesses about the perpendicular. But the electronic and nuclear spins are just as characteristic for these particles as are their electric charge and mass (the atomic weights), so that the deep import of a determination of their gyromagnetic indices becomes immediately obvious.
      Now what possibilities exist for the observation and measurement of the frequencies of the electrons and the atomic nucleus in the magnetic field? This is where the new phase in the development comes in. In this connection I need only remind you of the resonance between our radio apparatuses and radio waves. The comparison is actually quite justified, as the electronic and atomic nuclear frequencies in the magnetic field fall precisely within the region for the short-wave radio with wavelengths varying between some tens of meters and the centimeterwaves employed in radar technique. These atomic frequencies in the magnetic field are so characteristic for each element and its isotopes that they are more undisturbed and regular than the balance-wheel, pendulum and vibrating quartz-crystal in our modern chronometers. The method for the determination of the nuclear magnetic moment through resonance with radio waves has long been well-known, and was rewarded by the Academy of Sciences with the Nobel Prize for the year 1944 to Rabi.
      It was with similar methods that the paramagnetism of crystals deriving from the electronic spin was investigated by Gorter in Leiden. Rabi carried out his investigations on nuclear magnetic moments according to the molecular-ray method, an artificial method which has, certainly, the inestimable advantage that the investigated substance is in a state of very high rarefaction, though at the same time this limits its application. The methods of Purcell and Bloch imply a great simplification and generalization in this respect, which enables their application to solid, liquid and gaseous substances. This brings us to the useful purposes which may be served. Since each kind of atom and its isotopes have a sharply defined and characteristic nuclear frequency, we can in any object placed between the poles of an electromagnet seek out and examine with radio waves all the various kinds of atom and isotopes present in the object in question, and, which is the essential point, this without in any perceptible way affecting the same, its form, crystalline structure, etc. This form of analysis in situ is therefore probably not parallelled in any other known methods of analysis. Its extraordinary sensitiveness also makes it particularly well-adapted as a micro-method in many scientific and technical fields. Professor Purcell.
      Ssince Professor Bloch stopped working at the great Radiation Laboratory at M.I.T. at the end of the War, and up to his development of the excellent method of nuclear resonance absorption for which he has been awarded his Nobel Prize, he has happily realized man's old dream of beating the sword into a ploughshare. His wide experience in electronics and the deep interest you early showed in paramagnetic phenomena may thus conceivably have contributed to the invention of his method, which through its extraordinary sensitiveness gives us a deep insight into the constitution of crystals and fluids, and the interactions, so-called relaxations, between the tiniest particles of matter. In part with this method, and in part without it, he and his collaborators have made a number of important discoveries, among which the three following stand out: Bloch's method for studying nuclear magnetic resonance in weak magnetic field produced according to the solenoid method, which is of great value for the absolute determination of nuclear magnetic moments. In the very interesting experiment which he performed together with Dr. Pound, he has produced with paramagnetic resonance the rather unique situation in which the state of the atomic nucleus corresponds to negative temperatures in the absolute-temperature scale. Finally, as a quite spectacular discovery may be mentioned his observation with Dr. Ewen in 1951 of a line in the galactic radiospectrum caused by atomic hydrogen, an important contribution to radioastronomy.
      It would be difficult in a few lines to give the main features of the nuclear induction method for which Professor Bloch has been awarded his Nobel Prize. It would be still more difficult to give an exhaustive account of the ways that led him to this invention. Professor Bloch began his career as a theoretical physicist, well-known for his fundamental contributions to the theory of metals. When, quite unexpectedly, he went over to experimental research, this must have been, with deliberation and assurance. For he had in his kitbag a tool of extraordinary value, the method for the magnetic polarization of a beam of neutrons. The inestimable value of possessing a good idea, of indefatigably testing and perfecting it, is best illustrated by his precision-measurements of the magnetic moment of the neutron, one of the most difficult and at the same time most important tasks in nuclear physics. But ideas give birth to new ideas, and it was in this way that Bloch hit upon the excellent notion of eliminating the difficult absolute determination of the magnetic field by a direct measurement of the neutron moment in units of the proton cycle (the nuclear magneton). It was this solution which finally led him to the nuclear induction method.
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