When Worlds Collide, by Nalaka Gunawardene

Text of my ‘When Worlds Collide’ column published in Ceylon Today Sunday newspaper on 9 December 2012

Paul Hermann Müller (1899 – 1965) was a Swiss chemist. He won the 1948 Nobel Prize in physiology (medicine) for his 1939 discovery of DDT’s insecticidal qualities and its use in controlling disease carrying mosquitoes.

That knowledge was soon put to wide use. DDT was sprayed during the latter part of World War II to contain malaria and typhus among troops and civilians, and then adopted as an agricultural insecticide.

Christopher William Wijekoon (CWW) Kannangara (1884 – 1969) was a Lankan lawyer, legislator and effectively the country’s first minister of education during the pre-independence era. In the mid 1940s, he introduced far reaching reforms in that sector, enabling children from all levels of society to study from kindergarten to (and including) university level for free.

It’s unlikely that Müller and Kannangara ever met…

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