There once lived a king called Midas, also referred to as Croesus, who ruled a kingdom called Lydia, a province in ancient Greece.
As legend had it, Midas was known for two things: his love for gold and stupendous wealth. This made people to coin the famous saying, ‘as rich as Midas.’
Midas loved gold so much that he would visit his strong room filled with gold first thing every morning, perhaps to ensure that some thief had not stolen his treasure while he slept. He would shut the iron door securely behind him and open the windows slowly.
He would whoop with delight as the rays of the sun fall on his stockpile of gold, causing them to shine brightly. He would play with the gold for some time before leaving the room, always wishing that he had more. The more gold he acquired, the greedier he became.
Somebody who is looking for more gold is naturally less inclined to give out the ones that he already has. Midas was not known to be generous with gold.
One day, Dionysus, whom the Romans call Bacchus, the Greek god of wine, who knew all about Midas’ insatiable craving for gold, decided to teach the king a small lesson in life. He asked Midas to make a wish, suspecting already what the king would ask for.
Just as he had guessed, without thinking, Midas immediately wished that everything that he touched be changed into gold. His wish was speedily granted by the god.
Midas was beside himself with joy when he began to demonstrate his newly acquired power. He touched an oak twig in the garden and it turned into gold instantly. He howled with ecstasy. At his touch also, a stone in the courtyard and pillars in the palace, became gold.
The petrified Midas was gripped by a frenzy of cupidity as he turned everything in the palace into gold with his magical golden touch.
But there was a little snag.
When he tried to eat bread, it turned into a hard yellowish substance that offended his teeth. He yelped with pain. When he grabbed a glass of water to ease the discomfort, the liquid turned into gold in his mouth. He almost choked himself. When he held a towel to mop his face it changed into gold at his touch. He threw the towel away out of anger.
His initial happiness slowly wore off and gave way to alarm, when his young daughter—an only child for that matter—turned into pure gold, as he attempted to embrace her.
That was the last straw.
The starving Midas begged Dionysus to take back his gift and restore his daughter to her former state, saying: “My daughter is worth more than all the gold on earth!”
The lesson is simple enough: money is not everything.
On September 28, 1928, a British scientist named Sir Alexander Fleming made a chance discovery while he was working in his dingy laboratory.
Fleming discovered that a fungus, which he cultured inside a petri dish, killed all bacteria around it.
He was puzzled.
Unable to unravel the mystery by himself, he announced his finding to his colleagues, who were equally baffled by this interesting discovery. After carrying out series of experiments, they arrived at the conclusion that Fleming had discovered the world’s first anti-biotic!
The scientists succeeded in isolating the micro-organism, which had the ability to destroy bacteria. They called the new ‘wonder’ micro-organism Penicillium notatum. It was from this micro-organism that they eventually synthesised penicillin, an anti-biotic.
Penicillin was used extensively during the Second World War that occurred between 1939 and 1945, to save lives of wounded soldiers, who would have died from even simple infections. It is still the first choice anti-biotic in fighting infections today due to its broad-spectrum activity against other fungi, bacteria and viruses.
For their efforts in putting this anti-biotic to global use, Fleming and two of his close associates—Ernest Chain and Howard Florey—jointly received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1945.
In 1999, TIME magazine named Fleming one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century, noting that: “it was a discovery that would change the course of history.”
If Fleming had kept his discovery to himself just to get all the credit, he might not have been able to unravel the mystery. Team work helped to shed more light into his finding and he ended up getting the glory as well.
Fleming’s inspiring story shows that no man is an island of knowledge and ideas. Therefore, sharing ideas will help make the world a better place