TODDLER TEETH turned deadly serious--and scientifically invaluable--in 1958, when pathologist Walter Bauer helped start the St. Louis Baby Tooth Survey to study the effects of nuclear fallout on children. By 1970 the team had collected 300,000 shed primary teeth, which, they discovered, had absorbed nuclear waste from the milk of cows that were fed contaminated grass. The study helped establish an early-'60s ban on aboveground A-bomb testing and led to similar surveys across the U.S. and the rest of the world. Bauer was 82.

HE HELPED OPEN THE DOOR for modern biotechnology. Contrary to the then widely held view that...

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