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The precaution principle, ethics and cloning


The current scientific movement
François Jacob Scientist
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[Q] And the current scientific movement which took place last spring? You took part, a little, in the debate.

A little, yes.

[Q] What do you think about it? Are the complaints justified?

Yes, I think that the complaints are justified. I think that the government doesn't understand that science is essential to foresee the future. That's how future is made. And that consequently, if we cut ourselves off from it, we can't prepare tomorrow. It's a rare stupidity, but that's how it is. So I do think that it's important to get a move on and explain to the government that it will be useful for tomorrow. But then there's the famous problem of the reform of science, of the institutions.

[Q] Yes, well the reforms...

The reforms and the conferences. I haven't been able to stand them for quite a while. We've seen too many of them, of those, of conferences and meetings that didn't change anything, or that do provide something but in which you waste a great amount of time, there are always the same guys telling the same stories. There are the smooth talkers who... I really don't enjoy them.

[Q] Et le mouvement actuel des scientifiques qui s'est produit au printemps dernier? Vous êtes vous-même intervenu un petit peu dans ce débat. Un petit peu, oui. Qu'en pensez-vous? Les plaintes étaient justifiées?

Oui, je crois que les plaintes sont justifiées. Je crois que le gouvernement n'a pas compris que la science est indispensable pour prévoir l'avenir. Que l'avenir c'est fait avec ça. Et que par conséquent, si on se coupe de ça, on ne prépare pas le lendemain. C'est d'une connerie rare, mais c'est comme ça. Donc je crois qu'il y a intérêt quand même à s'agiter pour expliquer au gouvernement que ça servira à quelque chose demain. Mais après, le fameux problème de la réforme de la science, réforme des institutions.

[Q] Oui, ça les réformes...

Ça, les réformes et les assises, je ne peux plus le supporter depuis très longtemps. On en a trop vu de ça, des assises et des réunions...

[Q] Qui, n'ont rien donné après c'est ça.

Qui, n'ont rien donné ou qui donnent un peu, mais dans lesquelles on perd un temps fou, il y a toujours les mêmes types qui racontent des histoires dans tous les sens. Il y a les beaux parleurs qui... Ça ne m'amuse pas du tout.

François Jacob (1920-2013) was a French biochemist whose work has led to advances in the understanding of the ways in which genes are controlled. In 1965 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, together with Jacque Monod and André Lwoff, for his contribution to the field of biochemistry. His later work included studies on gene control and on embryogenesis. Besides the Nobel Prize, he also received the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science for 1996 and was elected a member of the French Academy in 1996.

Listeners: Michel Morange

Michel Morange est généticien et professeur à L'Université Paris VI ainsi qu'à l'Ecole Normale Supérieure où il dirige le Centre Cavaillès d'Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences. Après l'obtention d'une license en Biochimie ainsi que de deux Doctorats, l'un en Biochimie, l'autre en Histoire et Philosophie des Sciences, il rejoint le laboratoire de Génétique Moléculaire dirigé par le Professeur François Jacob à l'Institut Pasteur. Ses principaux travaux de recherche se sont portés sur l'Histoire de la Biologie au XXème siècle, la naissance et le développement de la Biologie Moléculaire, ses transformations récentes et ses interactions avec les autres disciplines biologiques. Auteur de "La Part des Gènes" ainsi que de "Histoire de la Biologie Moléculaire", il est spécialiste de la structure, de la fonction et de l'ingénerie des protéines.

Michel Morange is a professor of Biology and Director of the Centre Cavaillès of History and Philosophy of Science at the Ecole Normale Supérieure. After having obtained a Bachelor in biochemistry and two PhDs, one in Biochemistry, the other in History and Philosophy of Science, he went on to join the research unit of Molecular Genetics headed by François Jacob, in the Department of Molecular Biology at the Pasteur Institute, Paris. Together with Olivier Bensaude, he discovered that Heat Shock Proteins are specifically expressed on the onset of the mouse zygotic genome activation. Since then he has been working on the properties of Heat Shock Proteins, their role in aggregation and on the regulation of expression of these proteins during mouse embryogenesis. He is the author of 'A History of Molecular Biology' and 'The Misunderstood Gene'.

Tags: science, future, institution, government, reform, conference

Duration: 1 minute, 11 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008