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Edwin Conklin versus Hans Driesch


My musical Swiss grandfather
John Bonner Scientist
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My Swiss grandfather was really nice because he was the father of the family in the Swiss fashion, very rigid, but at the same time, he was a very kind and gentle soul. So he was totally adored by everybody. And people, if he said, we're going to do such and such, we did it with a smile. And he - there were lots of stories about him that I've always loved, he was very musical, and played as an amateur in the first violins in the Zurich Orchestra - and he told me one day that he had heard Brahms conduct the orchestra. And I said, 'Oh, you're not that old'. And he said, 'Oh, yes, we overlap quite a bit, actually'. But he was a splendid man. In his old age he couldn't play anymore because of his tremor, but he'd ask me to play quintets and Schubert trios, and things like that. And he'd sit beside the old gramophone, and he'd cry. It was really, very touching. I always felt as though I were invading his privacy.

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: Zurich Orchestra, Johannes Brahms

Duration: 1 minute, 39 seconds

Date story recorded: February 2016

Date story went live: 14 September 2016