Six months after adopting my dog Bruce, I was rubbing his belly when I noticed some raised black spots there. A quick Google search convinced me that there was a very good chance they were melanoma, but as it was a Friday afternoon, I couldn’t get Bruce to the vet until Monday. It was a truly awful couple of days, but I knew I wasn’t the only one worrying about a four-legged friend.
In the not-so-distant future, a 66-year-old man is drinking his morning tea when he suddenly feels his face go numb. His teacup spills to the floor as the hand that was holding it falls limp by his side. His wife enters the room and seems upset, but the man has difficulty understanding what she is saying. He has a pounding headache.
This man may have just had a stroke—a blockage or break in a blood vessel in the brain. If so, the treatment he receives in the next four hours could mean the difference between whether he lives or dies—whether he recovers fully or becomes permanently disabled.
A shorter version of this piece originally appeared in Forbes.
In the mid-17th century, the average Chinese farmer knew the exact size of his market. China had been cultivating staples like rice and buckwheat for thousands of years, honing planting, harvesting, and distribution down to a precise science. So when European traders showed up with an exotic new tuber from South America they called the “potato,” many established farmers probably expected that the new crop would take over some fraction of the existing market for rice.