Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer

Alexander Fleming's Messy Desk Leads to a Major Discovery

Alexander Fleming's untidy desk becomes the key to a major scientific breakthrough when a particle of bacteria from his laboratory floats onto a petri dish on a desk in his study. This accident in a petri dish leads to his discovery that naturally-occurring mold could be a bacteria killer, setting the stage for the invention of penicillin further down the line.

Alexander Fleming's Messy Desk Leads to a Major Discovery

4m 58s

  • Behavior: asset-mezzanine-16x9


    S1 E4 - 53m 6s

    Understand the importance of persuading the public to protect themselves during health crises. History shows that handwashing, social distancing and grassroots campaigning all play important roles in helping to shift behavior and save lives.

  • Data: asset-mezzanine-16x9


    S1 E3 - 53m 6s

    Track the importance of data mapping and analysis in the quest to improve public health. The painstaking work of past data detectives made us aware of epidemic "curves" as well as the extent of health inequalities among different U.S. communities.

  • Medical Drugs: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Medical Drugs

    S1 E2 - 53m 6s

    Learn about the surprisingly recent invention of medicine that combats illness directly, such as antibiotics. From the accidental discovery of penicillin to today’s hunt for antivirals, this history underpins work to find COVID-19 treatments.

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