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My musical Swiss grandfather


Meeting Father Time
John Bonner Scientist
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One other story about Woods Hole, which I find quite remarkable, there's a place you can walk along sort of a peninsula, which has a little curlique thing at the end, and this is called Penzance Point. And so I took my father for a walk out there. It was a very pleasant walk. And at the end there was a big house, which belonged to Dr Warbasse from Brooklyn, who was an obstetrician, much retired. And you could walk around his house if you stayed on the path; there was a very nice sign saying, please enjoy the walk. And just as we came into his place, there he was himself with a long, long beard, and leaning on a scythe - he was cutting, mowing the lawn, or hay. And he looked… all you needed was an hourglass, and it would've been Father Time. And so I didn't know what to do or say. So I said to him, I said, 'I want to thank you for allowing us to go on your path'. And then, I thought, my father was there. I said, 'Well, I'd like you to meet my father, Paul Bonner'. And he looked at my father and he said, 'Are you from Brooklyn?' And my father said, 'Yes'. And he said, 'Was your mother's name Theodora?' 'Yes'. 'I delivered her', which I thought was definitely a coup de grace.

John Tyler Bonner (born in 1920) is an emeritus professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. He is a pioneer in the use of cellular slime molds to understand evolution and development and is one of the world's leading experts on cellular slime molds. He says that his prime interests are in evolution and development and that he uses the cellular slime molds as a tool to seek an understanding of those twin disciplines. He has written several books on developmental biology and evolution, many scientific papers, and has produced a number of works in biology. He has led the way in making Dictyostelium discoideum a model organism central to examining some of the major questions in experimental biology.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Woods Hole, Penzance Point

Duration: 1 minute, 59 seconds

Date story recorded: February 2016

Date story went live: 14 September 2016