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Julian Huxley’s ‘heresy’


My distinguished friends
John Bonner Scientist
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Huxley and GP Wells, and I never met, to my regret, HG Wells. But Julian Huxley was… he came to Princeton quite often and I had wonderful times with him. He was really, he could talk about anything and he was always very interesting and a lot of fun, and very supportive, too. We were interested in the same bits of embryology, but his interests were all much broader than that, not just that and I think maybe he influenced me to have my interested broader, too. And GP Wells, one summer I taught in a field station in Puget Sound, in America and Gip was one of the other teachers. And we got to know one another, splendid, splendid man.

Now, as far as Huxley goes, people would ask me, what is Huxley like? Well, he's a man of the old school and he considers himself very distinguished, and this story proves this. He was invited to Yale to give a seminar. And he was all dolled up with a fancy jacket on and so forth and necktie, and his nephew, who was a young anthropologist, met him at the railway station, and said, 'You look awfully distinguished, Uncle Julian'. And his reply was, 'I am awfully distinguished'.

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: Julian Huxley, GP Wells

Duration: 2 minutes, 7 seconds

Date story recorded: February 2016

Date story went live: 14 September 2016