April 17, 2001
Scientists Introduce Middle School Students to Research World
Portrait of a 19th Century Physician-Writer
Women's History Month Lecture Offers View of Mary Putnam Jacobi
By Carla Garnett
In this era of so-called plain language, Dr. Mary Putnam probably
would have been considered a terrible medical writer. Simple
sentences were foreign to her. Multi-syllabic, highly technical words
were her friends. Elaborate detail and redundancy, her trademarks.
That could have been because she had her own ideas about
communicating complex concepts. She understood what she was
describing and she wanted her audience to know she understood.
Often, Putnam a young female physician in a
male-dominated field in the 19th century was writing
chiefly for respect, legitimacy and acceptance by her colleagues. By
the time her career would peak, however, she had honed her craft.
Her later writing was so rich with description and vivid with insight
that much of her prose could be called a "speaking picture."
Surgeon General Visits, Touts Oral Health
By Carla Garnett
Back in 1964, Dr. Luther Terry, then U.S. surgeon general, was
understandably a bit nervous. He was about to release the first-ever
Surgeon General's Report, which confirmed several long-suspected
theories regarding the detrimental effect of smoking on health. As he
was riding to the news conference, thinking about what he would
say, he lit up a cigarette. Noting the cigarette, an adviser, who knew
Terry was a chronic smoker, suggested that the surgeon general be
prepared for the first question reporters were certain to ask: Do you
smoke, Dr. Terry? Terry could not believe reporters would be
interested in his personal habits. Sure enough, though, following
Terry's announcement of the landmark SG report and his comments
about the health dangers of smoking, a savvy reporter asked Terry if
he smoked. "No," Terry replied. The reporter convinced
he had done his homework double-checked his notes.
Knowing Terry's history, the writer pressed further, "Dr. Terry,
when did you quit?" A smiling Terry responded, "About 30 minutes
ago." He never smoked again.