Until 1955, polio was considered one of the most potent health problems for both children and adults. This crippling disease knew no bounds. One of its victims, President Franklin Roosevelt, was forced into a wheelchair by the disease. In 1952, polio claimed more victims than any other communicable disease. Recognizing its virulent return each summer, Roosevelt provided funds to hunt for a vaccine.
At the University of Pittsburgh, Doctor Jonas Salk (1914-1995) became convinced a vaccine could be found. His work with infantile paralysis made him believe such a substance was possible and his personal conviction led to discovery. Salk spent eight tedious years hunting. On April 12, 1955, after an elaborate field testing system, headlines across America read: POLIO IS CONQUERED.
Interestingly enough, Dr. Salk had no wish to patent the medicine for the sake of personal gain or profit. His true concern was that it be distributed as widely and as quickly as possible. Today, one rarely hears of polio.
The success of Jonas Salk came from his personal belief that a vaccine could be found. The countless hours he spent experimenting were not wasted because he had an intimation that a vaccine was there to discover.
Without the aid of a telescope (invented around 1608), Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543) examined the universe with his naked eyes. Like earlier astronomers over a period of years, he observed that at certain times, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn appear to stop; and then move backward in the heavens; only to start forward again after a given amount of time.
But Copernicus doubted the accepted cosmological paradigm. Like Salk’s intuition, Copernicus had an intimation, a belief, that the Earth-centered theory of the universe was wrong. If he placed the sun at the center of our solar system, then the planets never reverse their motions. This made logical sense because each was traveling in its own orbit at its own speed. Copernicus worked out complicated mathematical equations to prove the correctness of his theory.