In 1982, a tainted drug caused a handful of young Californians to become mysteriously frozen, unable to move.

There was this big argument that broke out on the ward, remembers William Langston, chief scientific officer and founder of the Parkinson s Institute, a clinic and research center in Sunnyvale, California.

In time, two more frozen patients, Connie and Toby, found their way into Langston s clinic.

A mass spectrometer adds charges to molecules and then separates them according to their mass using a magnetic field, creating a spectrum from a complicated chemical mixture.

He managed to do this successfully for a while, but he got sloppy with one batch.

Connie s response to levodopa was limited, suggesting that her illness may have been too advanced to benefit from the procedure.

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