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Thoughts on creativity


Evaluation of my character
Sydney Brenner Scientist
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Well, I mean, other people have told me what my weaknesses are, but I don't agree with them. Like, you know, I'm insulting, I'm arrogant and so on. I don't think I am, actually. I think I'm pretty honest basically and… and I think I know what I'm trying to do and I think that science is so important and what we're trying to do is so important within it, that I sometimes do express impatience with the sort of people that lie in the way. Well, I think one of my great advantages is I have a good sense of humour, particularly about myself. And that's one of the great things that, I think, one ought to have. I think once one has a complete… once… what one should always have is a complete sense of how ludicrous… not possibly how ludicrous you are, but how ludicrous you can be, and I think that's very important. Pomposity is one of my great fears. I think pompousness in an old man is terrible. Of course, pomposity in a young man is… is absolutely beyond the pale. After that I consider, you know, that I've been very lucky to have survived the… this whole path in science and have been able to indulge in what I wanted to do, but as I've always said, if one can do what one is interested in and be of benefit to mankind, why not?

South African Sydney Brenner (1927-2019) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2002. His joint discovery of messenger RNA, and, in more recent years, his development of gene cloning, sequencing and manipulation techniques along with his work for the Human Genome Project have led to his standing as a pioneer in the field of genetics and molecular biology.

Listeners: Lewis Wolpert

Lewis Wolpert is Professor of Biology as Applied to Medicine in the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology of University College, London. His research interests are in the mechanisms involved in the development of the embryo. He was originally trained as a civil engineer in South Africa but changed to research in cell biology at King's College, London in 1955. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1980 and awarded the CBE in 1990. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999. He has presented science on both radio and TV and for five years was Chairman of the Committee for the Public Understanding of Science.



Listen to Lewis Wolpert at Web of Stories



Duration: 2 minutes

Date story recorded: April-May 1994

Date story went live: 29 September 2010