The successes and failures of scientific medicine came sharply into focus. New technology was available, but a more questioning attitude to drugs emerged.
On 25 July 1978, a girl called Louise Brown became the world’s first ‘test-tube baby’. An egg from her mother’s body had been successfully fertilized in a laboratory. For childless couples, the technique invoked new hope. Was it possible to manipulate human reproduction even more dramatically? Scientists developed ‘cloning’ in the seventies.

It means reproducing several identical living things from a single original. Gardeners have practised it for centuries by taking cuttings from one plant to produce others. Scientists managed to clone frogs, and people suggested that it might be possible to clone humans, too.

Ira Levin examined the idea in his novel The Boys from Brazil. In it, cells from Hitler’s body are implanted in women around the world to create a whole race of Hitlers. This was a terrible fantasy. But despite its possibility, most scientists rejected the idea that a complex organism such as the human body could ever be cloned. In 1979, Dr. Geoffrey Hounsfield won the Nobel Prize for physiology by developing the body scanner. This revolutionized X-ray techniques by scanning the body from all angles in three-dimensional sections.

Drugs came under careful scrutiny. The morning sickness drug, Thalidomide, was found to produce deformed children, and the drug company was forced to pay millions of pounds in compensation. Doubts also grew about the contraceptive pill. Women over 35 who were heavy smokers were advised not to use it because of its dangerous side effects. In contrast, natural medicine became hugely popular, especially acupuncture, an ancient Chinese method of anaesthetizing patients by sticking pins into points in the nervous system.


A. Find words in the text which mean the same as the following.

1. raised; activated (paragraph 1):
2. did not accept (paragraph 1):
3. made great changes in (paragraph 2):

4. observation; examination (paragraph 2)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *