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Updates, Hiram Maxim, Antibiotics & The Greatest Minds Book

Welcome (back) to The Greatest Minds!

Things have been rather quiet on here in recent months, but a lot has been going on behind the scenes, so I would like to take this chance to update things and fill regular readers in….

We are currently looking into producing a Greatest Minds bookazine/magazine, in lieu of the one-off book original promised. This means that publication of some of the promised content has been pushed back, while we investigate all the business sides to that. The “book” page of this website will be updated in due course. In the meantime, the “Art-of-The-Greatest-Minds” book is underway. At present, the plan is for a digital release, with the option of print-on-demand for anyone who wants a physical copy. There are also some plans afoot for more products incorporating this site’s artwork, so watch this space…

In his previous blog post (about space), Xavier Lopez promised some more earthly science content in this one, so here goes-

Science Links

There have been quite a lot of interesting science stories in recent months. Today, I would like to link to just 3 of them- one on antibiotic resistance, one on HIV immunotherapy and one of some amazing animal X-rays posted by the Smithsonian Museum. Tackling these in order-

1) This piece by science writers Laura Elizabeth Landsdowne and Dr Karen Steward talks about using Nitric Oxide treatments for lung disease to get around the obstacle of antibiotic resistance; it is built around an interview with Dr Mark Schoenfisch, Chief Scientific Officer at Vast Therapeutics -

2) The second link is a tabloid’s popular science article on the successful phase one trial of an HIV immunotherapy drug by a team from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill -

3) Finally, there is an amazing set of animal X-rays from the Smithsonian Museum, including one of a two-headed “mutant” shark, here-

Sir Hiram Maxim, Steampunk, Dieselpunk and More

As so often on here, I’d also like to talk a little bit about Steampunk and one of history’s Great Minds. So, again, dealing with these things in order; there is a great blog/ online “magazine” on Dieselpunk, Steampunk and the like that I recently stumbled upon called “Never Was”. It is well worth checking out and you can find it here-

A Great Mind?

One of the great joys of surfing the internet is stumbling upon something quirkily fascinating that you never would even have thought to go looking for. Sort of like a latter day version of finding a second hand bookshop somewhere in Soho, tucked in amongst the red lights, blue lights and general street detritus. Anyway, I recently came across an article/blog post about the prolific inventor Sir Hiram Maxim, so fits right in with the Great Minds theme.

Now, I am in two minds about listing it here or the inference that Sir Hiram Maxim was a “great mind” because I tend to think that part of being a truly great mind is turning your attentions to peaceable things and bettering the world for “all sentient beings”, rather than to devising weapons of war. You might counter that, in our flawed and imperfect society, war can sometimes be just

and a necessary evil and, in general, I would agree with that. However, a very large proportion of wars are fundamentally unnecessary, which means that when one talks about people of great intelligence working on wartime projects, a lot of the time they are working on things that are morally very dubious for wars that are even more so.

Few would condemn someone like Sir Barnes Wallis, for example, for turning his formidable intellect towards sophisticated bomb-making , in order to defeat the clear and relentlessly genocidal evil that was Nazism. Yet, with other great geniuses, working in other historical epochs, the ethics of their “career choices” are more dubious.

Alfred Nobel is said to have invented the Nobel Prize after his obituary was accidentally published during his lifetime. It has been said that he was so horrified by being described as “Le marchand de la mort” (“The merchant of death”) in its title that he decided to put his money towards funding the Nobel Prizes for the betterment of humanity.

With all of this in mind, listing Sir Hiram Maxim as a “great mind” might be stretching the definition of such a thing. However, it is fair to describe him as fascinating, prolific and very intelligent human being. So for those reasons, and with those caveats, let us perhaps include him as a “greatly intelligent mind” and move on. In any case, the article about him is very interesting; the jewel in the piece (and the bulk of the post) consists of extracts from the autobiography/family biography of his son, Hiram Percy Maxim. These are engaging and worthwhile in their own right, but also atmospheric of a long-bygone era. They are not exactly steam-punk but certainly vibrantly Victorian. Anyway, here is the link, enjoy! -

Thanks for reading,

Hope to see you again soon,

-V. L. Welch, Editor.

(More free content from Dr Welch can be found on )

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