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My fascination with chemical glassware

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A laboratory in our basement
Leonard Hayflick Scientist
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One event stands out in my memory, and that is that I became so advanced in – at least in my judgement at that time – in understanding the chemistry of explosives and fireworks that I wanted to move onto something a bit more dangerous.

And by this time I had established a relationship – along with a friend of mine who had a similar interest and a similar age – we became friendly with a clerk at a chemistry supply store and scientific supply house right next to the University of Pennsylvania, which was quite a distance from my home, but within reach by bicycle. Of course I was not a student at that time at that university. And he... We became very interested in glassware and the strange designs of chemical glassware, it was very fascinating to me and to him, and this gentleman allowed us to go down into the basement of this old building that housed this store – it was called Dolby's – and he... most of the glassware down there was obsolete and he allowed us to purchase it for a few pennies actually, which satisfied our curiosity tremendously.

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: laboratory, chemicals, bottles, drugist, explosives, fireworks, rockets

Duration: 1 minute, 29 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2011

Date story went live: 08 August 2012