Science regressing—why Scott got scurvy

Maciej Ceglowski has an excellent piece on the failure of the Scott expedition to the South Pole:

Now, I had been taught in school that scurvy had been conquered in 1747, when the Scottish physician James Lind proved in one of the first controlled medical experiments that citrus fruits were an effective cure for the disease. […]

[…] Somehow a highly-trained group of scientists at the start of the 20th century knew less about scurvy than the average sea captain in Napoleonic times.

The scary bit is that scientific knowledge can be lost, and not just that: scientific progress can make it harder to regain that knowledge.

Another example would be the rediscovery of the fact that hot water can freeze faster than cold water. Tanzanian high-school student Erasto Mpemba apparently got ridiculed time and again for his rediscovery, and if it weren’t for his stubbornness might never have published about the effect that now carries his name.

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