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Differences between British and American science
Avrion Mitchison Scientist
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British science has always been very close to American science but how do chaps like Jan Klein, coming out of Prague which was- was a scientific centre in its own way though on a much smaller scale than anything in England, or any of larger of the institutions in Britain, he can settle in America completely, with complete ease, and I think within a year or two he'll be able to move back to Eastern Europe if that- probably getting a bit old to do that now- but his children as they grow up in America will be able to move back to Prague, and I hope that he is making sure that his children learn Czech.
It has been said that in America they are less- they put less value in ideas and are more interested in people who show something, you know, prove an idea is right or wrong. Europe puts more value in ideas.
Yes, well there are- there is a lot of after dinner conversation of that sort, isn't there. I remember- when I went to Harvard, I remember the senior- a senior figure in the bio labs telling me, oh, he did admire British science because it was like using a rifle, people sighted carefully and then they shot the bullet right into the heart of the matter. I thought that was- the Americans are remarkably pro-European. Considering that their investment is so much bigger, I think they are very kind, actually very kind about Europe and maybe about Britain in particular, because they are after all mostly English in America aren't they, or they were mostly English, it's an English offshoot culturally and no, I don't think there are big differences, are there? I think there are enormous differences within America, that's another problem in saying it all, can't talk about 'the Americans'. The whole atmosphere of science in Harvard is different from the atmosphere in the other universities, big mid-Western universities. Big mid-Western universities are really expected to work hard and start early in the morning in a way that you're not necessarily expected in Harvard and you are also not expected to have such a uniquely high opinion of your own colleagues.

Avrion Mitchison, the British zoologist, is currently Professor Emeritus at University College London and is best known for his work demonstrating the role of lymphocytes in tumour rejection and for the separate and cooperative roles of T- and B-lymphocytes in this and other processes.

Listeners: Martin Raff

Martin Raff is a Canadian-born neurologist and research biologist who has made important contributions to immunology and cell development. He has a special interest in apoptosis, the phenomenon of cell death.

 

 


Listen to Martin Raff at Web of Stories

 

 

Duration: 2 minutes, 30 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 29 September 2010