In the first half, historian Geoff Schumacher, joined George Knapp, to discuss the life of Howard Hughes, one of the most intriguing and accomplished Americans of the 20th century. Initially, the public viewed him as a heroic and independent-minded trailblazer-- he was famous as a filmmaker, an aviator who flew around the world, an innovative builder of airplanes like the 'Spruce Goose,' and a casino owner in Las Vegas, who helped drive the Mob out. Yet in his later years, he was perhaps best known as an eccentric recluse. Indeed, behind closed doors, he suffered from germaphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and an addiction to painkillers, Schumacher revealed.
Hughes' mother was a germaphobe, and he may have picked up that trait from her, he detailed, and some of the injuries from his various plane crashes likely led to his reliance on drugs. While a major player in Hollywood, he had little sense of style and sophistication, though he dated many of the major actresses of the 1930s and 40s, Schumacher reported. An interesting side note in his life was his involvement in the Glomar Explorer CIA project. The Glomar was a giant deep-sea drillship, built during the Cold War in the early 1970s, with Hughes telling the media that he was attempting to retrieve manganese nodules from the ocean floor. But the Glomar was actually a covert operation by the CIA, who were trying to recover a sunken Soviet submarine. Instead of containing state-of-the-art technology, the CIA was surprised to discover the extracted sub was far behind American advancements.
Phillip K. Peterson, M.D. is professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Minnesota Medical School, where he served as an infectious disease specialist for four decades. In the latter half, he explained the dual role of germs and microbes: that they are critically important for our health, yet emerging pathogens continue to wreak havoc in our bodies. He specifically addressed the coronavirus pandemic, raging around our world. The newly emerged coronavirus (COVID-19) is one of around 140 pathogens discovered in the last 50 years. Peterson noted that much of the recent effort at combating pandemics has been focused on swine and bird flu, rather than a coronavirus like SARS, so we were caught mainly unprepared.
The idea that humans created COVID-19 as a type of bioweapon is a hoax or unfounded conspiracy, he declared. 60% of the known pathogens are "zoonotic," crossing over from animals to humans, he said. As SARS came from bats and intermediate animals, he believes a similar trajectory conveyed the new coronavirus. Along with a caller, Peterson suggested that one way to avoid such scenarios is to look at the way we treat animals, such as in some of the Chinese live food markets, where pathogens have started. He also talked about the concept of "super-spreaders," people that may be asymptomatic yet spread a disease like COVID-19 to many individuals. For more, visit his blog Germ Gems.