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Physicists preparing for biology


Seymour Benzer
Sydney Brenner Scientist
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Well, Seymour's a remarkable person. Seymour was trained as a physicist; Seymour was in fact an important person in the invention in the Transistor in his early work. He started that… he started working in solid state physics. And Seymour decided he would go into biology and wanted to learn this, and so the best thing he could do as a physicist was to go and work at Oak Ridge – the atomic energy – where the only thing he could work on was radiation, and by… and that's how he got into phage. But Seymour is a person who's come from things from the outside, and has the ingenuity of being able to formulate experiments and... and you know, carry them out, and that's what I think is.. is again someone who also doesn't have to go and do courses on biochemistry or genetics or embryology, just go and do it. So I think that that is also very important.

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: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Seymour Benzer

Duration: 1 minute, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: April-May 1994

Date story went live: 24 January 2008