Nature Blog Network

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Current Biology Interviews John Bonner

Current Biology has an excellent interview with John Bonner, a Princeton professor emeritus who was a pioneer in the study of cellular slime molds. I like his answer to the following question. It shows a sense of humor.
"Do you have any views on ethics? My views on ethics are based on common sense, not dogma. I have always been fascinated by the continuing discussion of when human life begins. No one seems to mention that life began billions of years ago and has been going strong ever since. I sympathize with the need to treat animals in experiments in the most humane way, but this is a matter that really does not arise in my own work. In fact when I cut up and make grafts on slime mold slugs I do not think of myself as torturing them — a sort of slime mold Doctor Moreau. But maybe I am underestimating their sensibilities."
Bonner also laments on how scientific papers are written today when he reveals that his favorite paper was from 1923:
"Do you have a favorite paper? Yes. G.P. Bidder, The relation of the form of a sponge to its currents (Quart. J. Micr. Sci. 67, 293–323. 1923!). Not only did Bidder do some ingenious experiments on sponge hydrodynamics, but he wrote them up in an exemplary fashion. He wrote the paper in a way that, alas, would no longer be possible in a journal today."

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