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A laboratory in our basement

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My first chemistry kit
Leonard Hayflick Scientist
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And over the years, to the best if my recollection, I... my interest in science began when I was about nine or ten years old, I think. A relative, I believe an uncle, bought me a chemistry set – I don't know whether they exist today, I haven't seen very many... any of them in recent years. I understand that there has been a terrific effort to protect young kids like myself, at that age, from harm that could be done with a chemical set were available at that time, and so that pressure today has, in my view, unfortunately made opportunities for interest in chemistry considerably less. But my chemistry set had several chemicals in there that were, as I learnt later, dangerous; explosives could be made, etc, and I became very interested in chemistry as a result of that Gilbert chemistry set. Many of our viewers, I'm sure, will be familiar with those sets; they existed in the US at least.

Leonard Hayflick (b. 1928), the recipient of several research prizes and awards, including the 1991 Sandoz Prize for Gerontological Research, is known for his research in cell biology, virus vaccine development, and mycoplasmology. He also has studied the ageing process for more than thirty years. Hayflick is known for discovering that human cells divide for a limited number of times in vitro (refuting the contention by Alexis Carrel that normal body cells are immortal), which is known as the Hayflick limit, as well as developing the first normal human diploid cell strains for studies on human ageing and for research use throughout the world. He also made the first oral polio vaccine produced in a continuously propogated cell strain - work which contributed to significant virus vaccine development.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: AC Gilbert Company, Gilbert chemistry set

Duration: 1 minute, 15 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2011

Date story went live: 08 August 2012