Monday, September 3, 2007

juicy back stories on famous biologist

In most textbooks it seems like scientists just waltz into their labs, fiddle around for a bit, then wait for the Nobel Committee to call. Sadly, the road to discovery is rarely that simple, and speed bumps pop up constantly. Call it historical context or call it dirt; there’s always more to the story.

1. Give Peas a Chance

Who would have guessed that Gregor Mendel (1822 - 1884), the "father of modern genetics," began his work in remedial training? In 1843 Mendel was an ordained priest attempting to get a job teaching natural science at a local school in Brno, Moravia. Problem was, he failed the teaching certificate exam. No social promotions allowed here; to fix him up, his abbot had Mendel attend the University of Vienna to study physical and biological sciences. Sticking with it seems to have worked. At Vienna, Mendel began his legendary work with pea plants, which demonstrated that patterns of inheritance hold from peas to humans. Oh, and even though his work in genetics remained unrecognized by scientists until the 1900s, Mendel did achieve his goals. He finally received his teaching certificate, taught high school, and became the abbot of his monastery.

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