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My distinguished friends


Conflict in the classroom
John Bonner Scientist
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The only thing was I didn't get along with the science master. I think he thought I was a total, I don't know what, but something you find under the stones. And he let me into his chemistry course, but he said, you're too young for this course. I said, well, give me a try and he said, fine. So one of the first things, we had a lab, in which he said a sulphate solution, and a much stronger one and we were to record in our lab books, the difference between these two. And I said, one smelled like one rotten egg, and the other smelled like two rotten eggs. And he kicked me out of the class! It was 'immature'. But actually, I still think my answer was pretty good.

And so that's the way I got into biology because I'd continue to read and continue to read. And my Swiss teacher made fun of my reading, too. And I've often thought afterwards, one of the reasons I'm a biologist is that he made me so mad that I did it just to be cussed. So anyhow that was the beginning.

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: science teacher, chemistry, sulphate solution, rotten egg, biology

Duration: 1 minute, 34 seconds

Date story recorded: February 2016

Date story went live: 14 September 2016