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Life was fun in Locust Valley


Learning about the facts of life
John Bonner Scientist
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We spent some time in England. My parent's moved there. And again, as usual, got to know everybody, it seems to me. And an amusing story happened because of something that happened to me and that is that we were in a house for the summer, a lovely old house in Surrey. And we were having dinner, just the family and there was a visiting coach for tennis, tennis coach to teach the whole family, and a very nice young man. And he wasn't there for dinner and my father said, 'Where is so-and-so?' And I said, 'Oh, he's out with his tart'. And my father looked at me in a very strange way and said, 'Do you know what that means, son?' And I said, 'Yes, he told me'. 'What?' And I said, 'It's short for sweetheart'. And so he said, 'Well, after dinner', he said, 'I want you to come up to my room'. And so I didn't know what to expect. I wasn't upset, but I know I was confused. And so I went up and he opened the dictionary and fiddled around. And finally he said, 'That's what it means'. And he put his finger and I said, 'What is “whore”'? And he gave up and asked my older brother to explain the facts of life to me.

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: dinner, tennis coach, dictionary, whore, facts of life

Duration: 1 minute, 57 seconds

Date story recorded: February 2016

Date story went live: 14 September 2016