Medicine: The Healing Soil

When Rutgers University needed to save some money during the war winter of 1941-42, a budget official had a bright idea: Why not fire Selman Waksman, an obscure Ukrainian-born microbiologist who was getting $4,620 a year for "playing around with microbes in the soil?" That sort of fun & games, the moneyman pointed out, had never really paid off.

Fortunately for Rutgers — and for mankind — Dean William H. Martin of the College of Agriculture saved Dr. Waksman from the ax. Within two years Selman Waksman's "playing around with microbes" had paid...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!