But why?

Acceptance can be over rated.

Ask John Gurdon.

Before the scientist began his experiments on frogs in 1958… (writes Steve Connor in the Independent)

…biologists believed that specialised cells had lost the genes for other functions during embryonic development. Sir John overturned the accepted dogma by publishing a scientific report in 1962 showing that it was possible to take the nucleus from the cell of a frog’s gut, implant it into an unfertilised egg cell that had had its own nucleus removed and get it to behave as if it was a normal fertilised egg to develop into complete tadpoles and frogs.

The cloned tadpoles were living proof that the specialised cells of an adult frog’s gut or skin tissue contained all the genes needed to produce a complete animal. Fifty years later, the insight means that it may now be possible to take skin cells from patients and use them to produce stem cells for repairing damaged tissues.

That wasn’t the first time John Gurdon refused to accept the accepted wisdom. According to one of his teachers, he definitely wasn’t cut out to be a scientist in the first place. His school report read:

“I believe Gurdon has ideas about becoming a scientist; on his present showing this is quite ridiculous; if he can’t learn simple biological facts he would have no chance of doing the work of a specialist, and it would be a sheer waste of time, both on his part and of those who would have to teach him.”

Not everyone was pleased about John Gurdon’s experiments on frogs.

He refused to accept that either. Which is why John Gurdon has just been awarded the Nobel Prize in Psychology or Medicine 2012. (Full Nobel citation here.)

This was a post for the Loose Bloggers Consortium on the theme of acceptance. I accept that the other members may feel disagree. Scroll down the right hand side and click on their links to find out.

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “But why?

  1. Stem cells hold so much promise and I think slow progress may be the desire to keep the death rate up for political/ economic reasons. The longer we live the more cost to government.

  2. Hudson Howl

    But why? The million dollar question. Resistance always comes from voices with their own agenda. They normally have little concern for the suffering of others. Fine example you pulled out of your hat.

    And yet the disbelief has long ago subsided the controversy continues regarding stem cell. Feed by misconception and a general refusal to be informed of the science due to ethical beliefs. Still science marches on with the lesser controversial methods -umbilical and spinal harvested cells.

    • Helen

      We all get it wrong at times. Who was the famous scientist, rating a statue, who stated that there would never be ‘heavier than air’ flight?

  3. Hmm, John Gurdon’s teacher didn’t believe he could be a scientist; next thing Gurdon accepts the Nobel Prize. Good job, HH.
    Blessings ~ Maxi

  4. I thought I left a comment earlier. I wonder why I was distracted?

  5. Genuine acceptance is hard to find. If you know more than two or three people prepared to accept you as you are, warts and all, you’re very lucky. Friendship often turns out to be skin-deep.

  6. Nah – I don’t disagree Paul – someone needs to be hardheaded enough for progress in most cases. Pick your spots and never say die. I’ve just never been lucky or smart enough to defeat any of the windmills I’ve tilted against. Hmm – tilted against? tilted with?? well – you know what I mean.

    • blackwatertown

      I now have this image of you dressed as Don Quixote embracing a windmill (it’s mini or you’re giant) as you waltz together surreally to the rhythm of clicking sails.

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