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Archaeology and palaeontology


Why I love pigments
Sydney Brenner Scientist
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[Q] You always liked pigments.

I love pigments, I love colour…

[Q] Why do you love pigments? I mean, given that…

Because you can see them, you see, and that's why I think sugar, sugar biochemistry and all this colourless biochemistry is really colourless. But pigments are amazing, and I've been fascinated by dyes, and in fact the whole idea of interpreting what you can stain, I really thought this was going to be the powerful way to… to study biology. Now of course during the… so sorry.

[Q] Now, I want to come back… sorry, we need to understand how was it… I mean, here you were in Honours class, you'd never been with a group of people interested in science at all, and suddenly you're publishing a paper with the Gillmans.

Well, I started to work with this and now, for the first time, we actually sat around and talked about science and scientific problems during my BSc year and of course… more and more intensively as I stayed on there and they had run… of course, the apprenticeship system is a very different form of teaching, and putting you onto a project, and so, for the first time, actually, there were other people interested in science, other people trying to solve problems and so this was the beginnings of a kind of lab interaction, and the whole sort of concept that you could go… you could discuss how to do things and so on. That started in that BSc degree.

[Q] And you actually got a pay. But it's unusual also to get a pay.

Yes, so I started because I had those interests and there was this paper that was published, and in fact I published very quickly in my Honours year several papers which depended on these.

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



Tags: Joseph Gillman, Theodore Gillman

Duration: 1 minute, 57 seconds

Date story recorded: April-May 1994

Date story went live: 24 January 2008