a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Talking about the future of molecular biology


Can we beat Thomas Malthus?
Aaron Klug Scientist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

I think the Royal Society... it does lack something which is it lacks economists and philosophers, although one or two economists have recently been elected. So when you come to things like... issues like population growth, can we beat [Thomas] Malthus? You know Malthus said... that we can never... it we have population growth exponentially producing more food growth annually, and up to now we've always beaten Malthus, and so we did have a discussion in 1998, a discussion meeting. It didn't go under that title, but I had to speak at the beginning. I called it: Can we beat Malthus? Because we have up to now beaten Malthus. The world's population has expanded or the food produced in... produced has kept with it, and this harks back to GM crops and so on, but in order to do this we actually invited economists and so on, one of whom has recently been elected to the Society. So it isn't a... the Royal Society is not, doesn't cover all the learned subjects in the German sense of wissenschaft, which many European Academies have... the sciences, the arts, humanities, sociology, economics, but during my time we had several joint meetings with the British Academy to try get over this, so we had things on ageing, on medicine, on insurance, all of which took place in my time. So I encouraged joint discussions. It started before my time, but I tried to encourage joint discussion with the British Academy and with economists and sociologists and people of that sort.

Born in Lithuania, Aaron Klug (1926-2018) was a British chemist and biophysicist. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1982 for developments in electron microscopy and his work on complexes of nucleic acids and proteins. He studied crystallography at the University of Cape Town before moving to England, completing his doctorate in 1953 at Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1981, he was awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University. His long and influential career led to a knighthood in 1988. He was also elected President of the Royal Society, and served there from 1995-2000.

Listeners: John Finch Ken Holmes

John Finch is a retired member of staff of the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK. He began research as a PhD student of Rosalind Franklin's at Birkbeck College, London in 1955 studying the structure of small viruses by x-ray diffraction. He came to Cambridge as part of Aaron Klug's team in 1962 and has continued with the structural study of viruses and other nucleoproteins such as chromatin, using both x-rays and electron microscopy.

Kenneth Holmes was born in London in 1934 and attended schools in Chiswick. He obtained his BA at St Johns College, Cambridge. He obtained his PhD at Birkbeck College, London working on the structure of tobacco mosaic virus with Rosalind Franklin and Aaron Klug. After a post-doc at Childrens' Hospital, Boston, where he started to work on muscle structure, he joined to the newly opened Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge where he stayed for six years. He worked with Aaron Klug on virus structure and with Hugh Huxley on muscle. He then moved to Heidelberg to open the Department of Biophysics at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research where he remained as director until his retirement. During this time he completed the structure of tobacco mosaic virus and solved the structures of a number of protein molecules including the structure of the muscle protein actin and the actin filament. Recently he has worked on the molecular mechanism of muscle contraction. He also initiated the use of synchrotron radiation as a source for X-ray diffraction and founded the EMBL outstation at DESY Hamburg. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1981 and is a member of a number of scientific academies.

Tags: The Royal Society, Thomas Malthus

Duration: 1 minute, 54 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008