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 least, confusing.

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