Back after a prolonged absence. Been busy with all sorts of administrative stuff that I would just as soon forget. I’m telling myself I’m on sabbatical (not that I actually am), but it helps with my psychological outlook.
I was at a thesis committee meeting recently, and one of the committee members mentioned a book he had been reading about Gregor Mendel, the monk who is the founder of modern genetics. As is well known, Mendel’s work with inheritance of different traits in pea plants formed the foundation of genetics. What I did not know was that Mendel started his study of heredity not with peas, but with mice.
Apparently, Mendel’s bishop was not enthusiastic about one of his monks studying animal sex, and ordered him to stop. The bishop, who did not know about sex in plants, permitted Mendel to study peas instead. So we have the bishop to thank for accelerating our understanding of genetics, as I’m pretty sure the mouse studies would have been much more slow and complicated to understand. There is another back story about Mendel’s potential fudging of the data that adds some additional intrigue to this episode. I guess the pressure to publish or perish has some pretty old origins.
Image By Mariana Ruiz LadyofHats (French Translation Moez) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons