• Question: who is your favourite scientist of all time and why?

    Asked by iamsirius to Alex, Amy, Andy, Georgia, Ollie on 15 Jun 2011. This question was also asked by briton, chloebabe, killadwarf, ethyios, emmabriggs, karl.
    • Photo: Amy Reeve

      Amy Reeve answered on 15 Jun 2011:

      Charles Darwin. He is my favourite because he wasn’t afraid to tell the world about his theory even though everyone including his wife thought he was wrong. He is the scientist who wrote ‘The Origin of Species’ that described how animals evolve into different types over time.

      I like Darwin so much i named my dog after him!! gets a bit embarassing shouting ‘darwin’ on the beach though!! 🙂

    • Photo: Ollie Russell

      Ollie Russell answered on 15 Jun 2011:

      My fav scientist is Thomas Midgely. He was a chemist who invented leaded petrol to stop engines knocking. Although this made the engines run perfectly, it has also created a bit of an environmental disaster :(. To make up for this he decided to make a refigerant that wouldnt explode so it could be safely used. He invented CFCs… these are the things that destroy the ozone layer.

      I like him because he invented really clever things, but never looked at the wider consequneces, something that a good scientist should always consider.

    • Photo: Andy MacLeod

      Andy MacLeod answered on 15 Jun 2011:

      Thomas Hunt Morgan

      Hello again sirius. Morgan was a geneticist who worked in the early part of the 20th century. He did a lot of painstaking work on fruit-flies which proved that not all genes acted independenly, as Mendel had thought a few decades earlier. He noticed that the variety of one gene (say “red eyes”) will sometimes affect the variety of another gene that does a different thing (like “short wings”). These genes were somehow “linked”. It turned out that the genes formed together into different groups – groups which we now know correspond to chromosomes. Morgan didn’t have any idea about the physical nature of chromosomes, but he used observation to work out that genes must be arranged somehow in a linear manner. This was a revolutionaty idea, and paved the way for gene mapping – all before people were able to see inside the nucleus, or had any idea about the structure of DNA.

      Linkage analysis is still used today to study the inheritance of genes that are close together on chromosomes. The unit that measures how far apart they are is called the “Morgan”.

    • Photo: Alex Munro

      Alex Munro answered on 15 Jun 2011:

      I very much admire Rosalind Franklin; a British biophysicist and x-ray crystallographer… her x-ray diffraction image of DNA was a key piece of evidence in identifying the structure of DNA.

      I also think her contribution to this process is sometimes forgotten – whereas the names of Francis Crick and James Watson are very well known

    • Photo: Georgia Campbell

      Georgia Campbell answered on 15 Jun 2011:

      Gregor Mendel – he’s the monk who first discovered that some traits were inheritable, back in the 1800s. He worked on sweetpeas, and was the first person to characterise the inheritance of ‘dominant’ and ‘recessive’ traits. He’s often classed as the ‘forefather of genetics’ – we might have taken a lot longer to work out how genes and DNA work if it hadn’t been for him!

      I really like Charles Darwin too, but I feel quite sorry for him – he was a very religious man, and had a really tough time trying to weigh up his scientific theories with what he believed in spiritually. He had a really hard time from the church – and the population generally, as our country was much more strongly religious then – when he did try to explain his findings to everyone. In the end, no-one really took his work seriously until after he died – but he discovered so much about evolution that its a good thing people listened to his ideas eventually!