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Dr. Ernst Trier Morch

If you ever want to transport someone to safety in the bottom of a boat undetected, be sure to sprinkle some of Morch's ingenious powder on the deck first.

David Buffington/Photodisco/Thinkstock

Some people -- the Leonardo da Vincis, Nikola Teslas and Albert Einsteins of the world -- have an uncanny gift for creative thinking. After reading this entry, you'll want to add Ernst Morch to this elite group. Dr. Ernst Trier Morch was a Danish-born doctor who transformed the practice of anesthesiology by inventing the Morch Piston Respirator, a forerunner of respirators used today to breathe for patients under anesthesia. He was also the first scientist, while studying dwarfism in Scandinavia, to document the frequency of mutations in humans. He determined that the mutation for dwarfism occurred spontaneously at the rate of 1:10,000 normal births [source: Stephen].

But Morch's greatest contribution to humanity may be his efforts as a freedom fighter during World War II. He participated actively in the Danish Resistance Movement, publishing illegal newspapers and sending intelligence about German bombing missions to England. He also helped to evacuate 7,000 Jews out of Denmark using one of the most exotic disguises in the history of skullduggery [source: Stephen]. Here's how it worked: To get to neutral Sweden, the Danish Jews stowed away in fishing boats, concealing themselves beneath false bottoms. Unfortunately, the Gestapo caught on and started using bloodhounds to sniff out the stowaways. In response, Morch worked with a pharmacist friend to develop a powder derived from rabbit's blood and cocaine. When the powder was sprinkled on the decks of the fishing boats, it concealed the scent of the Jewish passengers, allowing them to make a successful escape.

After the war, Morch received medals from the kings of Denmark, Sweden and Norway for his rescue work and other humanitarian activities.

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