Saturday, December 26, 2015

Top Secret Melon

A moldy cantaloupe was the source of one of the Top Secrets of WWII. As WWII threatened, a British team sought to perfect penicillin and its production. As D-Day loomed fear of the Germans getting their research and lack of resources for further development caused them to turn their Top Secret project over to the Americans. The search was on for a mold that produced the most penicillin. USA military planes even brought back molds from exotic locales. An American agricultural inspector brought a moldy cantaloupe to the labs one day. The mold was the best penicillin producer yet. Penicillin was found to grow well in corn syrup, which was readily available in the corn growing USA. Penicillin needed oxygen to grow. At first penicillin was grown in tipped milk bottles, finally in giant vats with oxygen bubbled into the mixture. Large amounts of penicillin were ready for D-Day and saved many soldiers from infection. In WWI, more soldiers had died of infection than did from being shot.

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