If reading these columns give you a headache ...
The (U.S.) patent for aspirin, one of the best known and apparently most
effective pain relievers, was issued on this day in 1900. Often trying to corroborate
the dates that I find for certain events is enough to give me a headache, and
not too infrequently I even abandon an event which I'd hoped to commemorate because
I can't find enough information to confirm that it actually took place on the
date I've found for it.
But headache or not, that's not the case with
this particular date tie-in. There is no lack of information on aspirin on the
web, and I've definitely been able to verify that on this date a U.S. patent for
aspirin was issued to Felix Hoffman. Many of the other dates I've found that pertain
to aspirin, however, seem to conflict with others. Some are probably typos, but
others are the result of someone quoting someone else who didn't have correct
information, and confusion results.
Even though the date for the U.S.
patent seems fully accurate, it's rather unclear whether that's really a significant
date. It turns out that Hoffman was awarded a patent for aspirin in his native
Germany at least one year earlier, and Hoffman's work on aspirin was basically
taking a known pain-killer and buffering it so that it wouldn't cause stomach
pain when ingested as happened with the earlier versions of the drug.
There's more, but this should be sufficient - if not to cause a headache, then
at the very least to prove (if it still needs proving) that information
without some framework in which to interpret it tends to be useless, or at the
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