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Taking the audience back to the city of London, England in 1954, this Steven Johnson keynote examines what remains to be the world’s most concentrated outbreak of disease in history. His speech examines the different ways the outbreak of cholera influenced modern medicine and the way cities are built today.
City officials in London believed that the stench throughout the city was responsible for people falling ill. As a solution, they instructed each resident to empty their basins of bodily excretions into the river. As it would soon be discovered, the cause of people’s illness was not from the stench of the city, but from of contaminated water, which was only made worse by the recent drop into the river.
His speech highlights one of the most important medical discoveries of history—that cholera was a water-borne disease.