A survey of leading scientists, journalists and opinion-makers has found that of the great scientific advances of the last hundred years, none has been as valuable to humanity as the groundbreaking combination of antiperspirant and deodorant perfected by Leopold Heinkel and his Berlin team in the 1960s.
Some commentators have suggested that the use of science to prevent sweat and odour is perhaps trivial compared with some of the other advances in modern times, such as the internet, space travel or eradicating fatal diseases. But this was pooh-poohed by Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, chairman of the Royal Scientific Society, who remembered the excitement of the discovery.
‘When the antiperspirant came along in the forties I was as keen as anyone to stop sweating like a pig, but unfortunately still stank like a baboon. Then, with the combination antipersipirant/deoderant I could finally get close enough to charm a woman without dripping all over her, and my virginity was at last extinguished.’ he recalled fondly. ‘Let’s be honest – wiping out smallpox is all very well – but getting our ends away was all we ever cared about.’