An illustration of a red virus
Science

A viral history of viruses

Back in February, Will Sweatman wrote a brief history of viruses for Hackaday, covering the etymology and discovery of viruses all the way to the growing effectiveness of vaccines.

It was around the year 1590 when mankind figured out how to use optical lenses to bring into sight things smaller than the natural eye can observe. With the invention of the microscope, a new and unexplored world was discovered. It will likely be of great surprise to the reader that scientists of the time did not believe that within this new microscopic realm lay the source of sickness and disease. Most would still hold on to a belief of what was known as Miasma theory, which dates back to the Roman Empire. This theory states that the source of disease was contaminated air through decomposing organic materials. It wouldn’t be until the 1850’s that a man by the name of Louis Pasteur, from whom we get “pasteurization”, would promote Germ Theory into the spotlight of the sciences.

The last few lines brought everything back to the present COVID-19 pandemic and what the future (hopefully) holds:

The COVID-19 virus has in some shape, form, or fashion effected every single human being on earth. Those viruses once invisible to us now stand before our very eyes in full view, and yet we have suffered terrible losses to this one. Our best tool is a breakthrough barely 30 years old — our ability to tailor messenger RNA (mRNA) a targeted purpose — has very quickly led to a viable vaccine. There is no doubt in my mind that eventually this virus will succumb to the might of human ingenuity that has been unlocked by more than a century of cumulative scientific knowledge.

To all those people questioning the quickness of getting COVID-19 vaccines together, it’s taken centuries of research and billions of dollars to get to this point.

And, as with all Hackaday posts, don’t read the comments.

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