Paper 2 Source Questions
Fleming was in his laboratory as usual, surrounded by dishes.
He was often teased about his untidy habits, but now that
untidiness was to prove useful. He took up several old dishes
and removed the lids. Several of the cultures had been
contaminated with mould. After a moment’s observation he said,
‘That’s funny.’ On the culture at which he was looking, all around
the mould the germs had dissolved. Fleming took a piece of the
mould with his scalpel. He obviously wanted to make quite sure
that this mould could be preserved. ‘What struck me’, his
assistant said, ‘ was that he didn’t confine himself to observing,
but took action at once.’
An account of the discovery of penicillin from a biography of
Fleming published in 1959
Study the source.
What impression of Fleming does this source give? Use the source and
your knowledge to explain your answer. 
In your article on penicillin yesterday you did not give any
single individual the credit for its discovery. I would like to
add to your article by pointing out that the credit should go
to Professor Alexander Fleming of this laboratory. For he is
the discoverer of penicillin and also the author of the
original suggestion that this substance might have
important applications in medicine.
An extract from a letter written to The Times newspaper in
August 1942 by the head of the inoculation Department at
St Mary’s Hospital in London. Fleming was working in his
department when he made his discovery.
There has been a lot of the most undesirable publicity in
the newspapers and press about penicillin. The whole
development of penicillin is presented as having been
worked out by Fleming. The steady propaganda seems to
have had its effect even on scientific people. Several
people have now said to be, ‘But I thought you had done
something on penicillin too?’
An extract from a letter written in December 1942 by
Howard Florey to a leading scientist in Britain
Study sources B and C.
Are you surprised by what Florey says in Source C? Use the
sources and your knowledge to explain your answer. 
Fleming told me that he didn’t deserve the Nobel Prize and
I had to bite my lip not to agree with him. He wasn’t putting
on an act – at least, not when he told me in 1946. At the
same time he told me that he couldn’t help enjoying all his
underserved fame and I liked him for that. With his fellow
scientists he had the sense to know that none of us was
any more impressed by his work than he was himself.
An extract from a letter written in 1980 by a doctor who had
discussed the discovery of penicillin with Fleming. The
letter was included in a book published in 1984
Study source D.
Does this source prove that Fleming did not
deserve the credit for penicillin? Use the source
and your knowledge to explain your answer. 
The man who made possible this tremendous benefit to
mankind is Dr. Alexander Fleming. He is a short, shy Scot
with somewhat dreamy eyes, fierce white hair and a mind
which, when it moves, moves like a cobra. It will be hard to
say who the great men of the twentieth century are, but Dr
Alexander Fleming is certainly one of them. He belongs to
the list of the great scientists which includes Galileo and
Isaac Newton. Penicillin is also big business, yet Dr.
Fleming (who discovered it) and Dr. Florey (who made it
tick) have gained nothing from it – except praise.
From an article in Time, an America magazine, published in
We would have started a research programme into anti-bacterial
substances even if Fleming’s paper had never been published.
Even if we had not done so, someone else in the world would
have taken on the research. As a result, some very interesting
anti-bacterial substances, including penicillin, would have been
discovered. The development of antibiotics might have been
delayed a few years, but it would have inevitably taken place
with the same final result as we have now.
From an article written by Ernst Chain in 1971
Study sources E and F.
Why do you think these sources says such different things
about the work of Fleming? Use the sources and your
knowledge to explain your answer. 
Study all the sources.
‘Fleming’s importance has been exaggerated.’
How far do the sources on this paper
support this view? Use the sources and
your knowledge to explain your answer.
Remember to identify the sources you use.