Wars, assassinations, and the beginnings of modern terrorism - groundbreaking scientific and technical achievements, timeless cultural highlights, unforgettable jumps, and a new attitude towards life in the young generation. All this makes 1968 one of the most important years of the post-war era, a leap into a new age, and a spectacular setting for the founding of the Biomol GmbH in Ilvesheim. As a distributor of electrophoresis equipment and fine chemicals, the company started as a one-man business and has become an indispensable partner to the fast and ever-growing life science industry over the last 50 years. Nothing better captures the spirit of that time than the "1968 - Biomol 50th Anniversary Playlist" with the biggest hits of ‘68, but more on that later.
Images of the Vietnam War and starving children in the Nigerian province of Biafra flickered every day across the screens of the first color television sets. In the US, the black civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered, and only two months later, Senator Robert Kennedy, JFK’s brother, died following an attack in Los Angeles. After an assassination attempt on student leader Rudi Dutschke in Berlin, which left him severely handicapped, more and more young people took to the streets in protest against emergency laws and the Vietnam War - in France, these conflicts escalated into the May riots. In Berlin, the RAF terrorists Baader and Ensslin set fire to two department stores. Czechoslovakia’s attempt to establish "socialism with a human face" and the following Prague Spring were crushed by Soviet and Warsaw Pact tanks on August 21st.
1968 was also a year of outstanding scientific and cultural achievements as well as huge leaps of a completely different kind: The American Bob Beamon catapulted himself to an astounding height of 8.90 meters at the Olympic Games in Mexico City - a world record that stood for 23 years. His colleague Dick Fosbury won the first high jump gold medal using the then-unique "back-first" technique, which was later named "Fosbury Flop.” In an unexpected turn of events 1. FC Nuremberg, not Bayern Munich, became Bundesliga champions. And what do Will Smith, Hugh Jackman, Daniel Craig, Gillian Anderson, Celine Dion, and Kylie Minogue have in common? They were all born in 1968.
Science and Technology
Taken by Apollo 8 crewmember Bill Anders on December 24, 1968, showing the Earth seemingly rising above the lunar surface.
On January 2, 1968, the world’s first long-term successful heart transplantation took place under the direction of Dr. Christiaan Barnard at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. A few weeks later, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Munich were the first to synthesize the hormone glucagon. The so-called "Contergan trial" was opened on January 18, 1968 in the criminal division of the District Court Aachen, eight years after the drug was discovered to be teratogenic. The German Federal Social Court recognized alcoholism as a disease in its June 18 judgment. The world’s biggest medical challenge was the Hong Kong flu pandemic. Triggered by a novel H3N2 influenza strain, it caused around a million deaths worldwide.
The Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to the three US researchers Robert W. Holley, Har Gobind Khorana, and Marshall W. Nirenberg for their "Interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis.” But 1968 also marks the loss of two of the most prestigious researchers: the nuclear chemist Otto Hahn and the Austrian-Swedish nuclear physicist Lise Meitner. Groundbreaking technical achievements included computed tomography, dot matrix printers, and the Boeing 747 jumbo jet - long the world's largest passenger aircraft. In the US, NASA ran the Apollo capsule tests for the daunting moon landing adventure of 1969, and for the first time, the three astronauts of the Apollo 8 saw the far side of the moon - live and in color.
Film and Music
Produced were classics such as "Planet of the Apes", Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Rosemary's Baby", and "Once Upon a Time in the West" with the timeless score of Ennio Morricone. The Academy Awards of 1968 were given to classics like "The Graduate" with Dustin Hoffman and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner", while the anti-racism film "In the Heat of the Night," starring Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, won the Oscar for best movie.
While the German charts were dominated by schmaltzy songs from the Dutch child star Heintje, top international stars took a back seat; the Beatles reached sixth place with "Hey Jude" and 27th with "Lady Madonna.” Manfred Mann's "Mighty Quinn" was at 18, four places ahead of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by the Rolling Stones. One year before Woodstock, 1968 gave birth to new musical highlights. Many of the titles produced in this year reflect the ‘68’s spirit of optimism and survived many decades unscathed.
In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Biomol has put together a YouTube and a Spotify playlist. Including, of course, Scott McKenzie's hippie anthem "San Francisco.” Jimi Hendrix shines on the guitar with "Purple Haze" and "Voodoo Child.” The Doors sing "Hello, I Love You", while the Stones celebrate the "Street Fighting Man.” Otis Redding (“Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”), Louis Armstrong, Simon & Garfunkel, and Tammy Wynette play country classics including "Stand by Your Man,” offering gentler tones. Of course, we couldn’t forget Johnny Cash, who made a sensational comeback in 1968 with his appearance in the US Folsom Prison. Biomol wishes you a lot of fun while listening!