Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Chance for Genetics

I quite like it when blind artistic surfing luck combines with my naive ignorance for some scientific education.

The botanical images above are from around the beginning of the 20th century and are educational illustration plates by Dutchman, Hugo de Vries. De Vries was a Professor of Botany at Amsterdam University and devoted much of his research time to studying plant breeding, hybridizing techniques and cellular osmosis, particularly in relation to the Evening Primrose plant.

During the course of his research de Vries independently formulated identical hypotheses to what would later become known as Mendel's Laws of Genetics - which describe genetic inheritance. Mendel had published his original paper in the 1860s to a less than enthusiastic welcome and the core ideas were consigned to the dustbin of obscurity. De Vries' work (and others) greatly influenced such luminary geneticists as William Bateson (he coined the word 'genetics'), who popularized Mendelism in Britain and the rest is, as they say, history.

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