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Broad academic discussion as a student


Sydney Brenner Scientist
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There was at that time a rather remarkable person in the… in the histology department called Alf Oettli, and Alf Oettli was a microscopist, and he believed in dark field microscopy, because he had learned this from a very famous man called Adrianus Pijper. Now, Adrianus Pijper was a man who had seen flagellae of bacteria under dark field, and of course it was through Alf Oettli that I really learnt about microscopy as a subject. One of the things that you needed to do this was an intense source of illumination, and so what we built was… is… was a heliostat. This was a mirror which effectively was hooked to a clock so that it followed the sun and would pick up the sun and reflect it into the lab so that we had with this heliostat and in the days of… of brilliant sunshine, especially that you get during the winter in South Africa, this report… this gave us a remarkable set of… gave us a remarkable source of illumination.

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: South Africa, Adrianus Pijper, AG Oettli

Duration: 1 minute, 35 seconds

Date story recorded: April-May 1994

Date story went live: 24 January 2008