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Three possible explanations for our findings


Using Jesuit logic to solve a problem
Christian de Duve Scientist
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The technique that was developed by Hogeboom and Schneider was really the same as Claude's but adapted to the new medium, sucrose, but, essentially, it involved separation of four fractions: nuclear fraction; the mitochondrial fraction; the microsomal fraction; and the supernatant. And when we looked at the results of our own fractionation results, with acid phosphatase and later with beta glucuronidase, we were puzzled or embarrassed by the fact that only about two thirds of the activity of those enzymes was recovered with the mitochondria. And almost one third came down with the microsomes. Now that finding had three possible explanations. You see the Jesuit logic coming back; it's the only thing that helped me in research because I wasn't very good with my hands and I wasn't very good with instruments or techniques, and many of my co-workers were very helpful in this respect. I loved using my hands but I wasn't very skilled.

Belgian biochemist Christian de Duve (1917-2013) was best known for his work on understanding and categorising subcellular organelles. He won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1974 for his joint discovery of lysosomes, the subcellular organelles that digest macromolecules and deal with ingested bacteria.

Listeners: Peter Newmark

Peter Newmark has recently retired as Editorial Director of BioMed Central Ltd, the Open Access journal publisher. He obtained a D. Phil. from Oxford University and was originally a research biochemist at St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical School in London, but left research to become Biology Editor and then Deputy Editor of the journal Nature. He then became Managing Director of Current Biology Ltd, where he started a series of Current Opinion journals, and was founding Editor of the journal Current Biology. Subsequently he was Editorial Director for Elsevier Science London, before joining BioMed Central Ltd.

Tags: Walter Schneider, George Hogeboom, Albert Claude

Duration: 1 minute, 39 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008