Emblematic of this era was the prolific Viennese surgeon Theodor Billroth. Born in 1821, Billroth studied music and surgery with almost equal verve. (The professions still often go hand in hand. Both push manual skill to its limit; both mature with practice and age; both depend on immediacy, precision, and opposable thumbs.)
It remains an astonishing, disturbing fact that in America - a nation where nearly every new drug is subjected to rigorous scrutiny as a potential carcinogen, and even the bare hint of a substance's link to cancer ignites a firestorm of public hysteria and media anxiety - one of the most potent and common carcinogens known to humans can be freely bought and sold at every corner store for a few dollars.