Articles

Earl Bakken: The Man Who Changed Our Hearts

Earl Bakken passed away last week at the age of 94. Not many people have heard of Bakken, but he saved millions of lives all around the world. In 1949, Bakken founded Medtronic, a garage-based medical equipment repair shop that made $8 in its first month of operation. In 1957, an infant with a heart condition died after a blackout disabled her plug-in pacemaker. At her surgeon’s request, Bakken invented the world’s first portable model, powered by an external battery taped to the chest. A few years later, he and his partners licensed designs for the first implantable pacemaker....

How Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Saved Lives

One of the coolest things about fiction (especially science fiction) is how it inspires scientific discovery in real life. Cell phones – inspired by Star Trek communicators – are a classic example. Edmond Locard is another. Locard was a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes novels, in which the great detective solves crimes using the tiniest of clues.¬†The books were one of the reasons that Locard became a forensic scientist. He not only pioneered the field of trace evidence – microscopic clues – but defined Locard’s Principle, “every contact leaves a trace.” Meaning that during a crime, physical evidence transfers¬†between...