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Fascination with science


Outsmarting the teacher
Leonard Hayflick Scientist
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Having now arrived in high school, I guess it was at that time, the... I took… I was enrolled in a course of first year chemistry. And I aggravated the teacher very much, because in several cases I tried to correct what he was saying in respect to some chemical reactions. And, of course, he took a bit of offence at that, this young kid trying to correct the teacher. I didn't do it overtly in a way that would have terribly embarrassed him, but I did make the point. He finally realised what I... what my knowledge was at that age... at that time and he sequestered me in the stock room of the chemistry laboratory, which was very dangerous for him to have done, and he just wanted me to help out in the stockroom and arrange the chemicals and help out and a lot of scut work, because what he was teaching was way beyond my... way beyond what I had known; it was too primitive. That was dangerous, because it gave me the opportunity to now get chemicals whose names I didn't know, they were new to me, and so I moved up even more in respect to my chemistry knowledge. And he was... He turned out to be very friendly and we got along very well and he helped me learn even more than what was taught at that high school course.

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: high school, chemistry, teacher, laboratory, stock room, chemicals

Duration: 1 minute, 55 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2011

Date story went live: 08 August 2012