10 Mar '12, 8pm

Changing Climates, Changing Minds: The Great Stink of London

The flush toilet undoubtedly improved conditions in people’s homes but its introduction simply shifted the waste problem into the River Thames, which was still, incredibly, used as a source of drinking water. It is hardly surprising that Londoners in the first half of the nineteenth century were afflicted by successive epidemics of typhoid, diarrhoea and, starting in 1854, cholera. Despite the pioneering epidemiological work of John Snow , which convincingly tied specific cholera outbreaks to contaminated water sources, the prevailing scientific orthodoxy was that these diseases were carried in the air: the miasma theory. This view prevailed even after the discovery of the cholera bacillus by the physician Robert Koch in 1883. The mistaken belief that “all smell is disease” nevertheless did not hinder the search to find a solution to the sewage problem and may even have he...

Full article: http://www.skepticalscience.com/news.php?n=1328

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