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Web of Stories offers you the chance to listen to some of the greatest people of our time telling their life stories.
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Poetry readings: "Summer Kitchen"

Donald Hall


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How far down does a blush go?

John Bonner - Scientist

Two things that I remember about that was that I forced [my father] to go to Professor Parker's evening lecture and which is the kind of lecture that could only be given 100 years ago. And that is, Parker is famous for having shown that nerves in the skin produce substances which effect their surrounding cells. So you have these lizards which can change their colour, and they do that by these nerve processes that terminate in producing little chemical signals. And his lecture, this is what he said. 'Well', he said, 'you know, when I was working on this', he said, 'I was dying…' It's the same thing as a blush; blush is the same principle. And so he said, 'When I was working on this, I wondered how far down then neck a blush went'. And he said, 'So I decided to look into the matter'. And he said, 'And I couldn't get the answer!' He said, 'And the reason was that all the women, when I first started, wore their clothes right up to their neck, and then, the next step was, you could see everything'. And he said, 'And then, they didn't blush anymore'.

Jeremy Bernstein - Scientist
Walter Murch - Film-maker
Freeman Dyson - Scientist
Marvin Minsky - Scientist
Eugene Garfield - Scientist