Subscribe
Subscribe
MY AMERICAN SCIENTIST
LOG IN! REGISTER!
SEARCH
 
Logo IMG

BOOK REVIEW

Corny Creativity: An Excerpt from Cultures of Creativity

Barbara McClintock?s creative research on genetic inheritance literally began out in the field, among cornstalks. . . .

[She] found that genes could reposition themselves on chromosomes, and that organisms had developed processes to control the functions of their genes. Her discovery that the genetic elements were not stable and unmoving conflicted with the prevalent views of the day. When McClintock first presented her results, she was already a respected researcher. However, her colleagues were skeptical and even cool to her claims of "jumping genes." McClintock was years ahead of her time in her research and thinking. It would be several decades before other scientists would agree with her understanding of hereditary processes.

Not until the 1970s did it become clear that "jumping genes" are not unique to corn plants. They exist in all living organisms, from simple bacteria to human beings, and are nature?s way of creating genetic variations.

What allowed Barbara McClintock to see farther and deeper than her colleagues? Again and again, she stated that a researcher must take the time to look, have the patience to "hear what the material has to say to you," and be open to what is in front of you. Most importantly, the researcher must have respect for life. . . . She felt a tie to all living things?cells, organisms, and the entire ecosystem.

Some of McClintock?s fellow researchers felt that research on corn was far too slow. At best, corn can be harvested twice a year, while microorganisms reproduce in just a few minutes. For Barbara McClintock this was an advantage, since it gave her time for the analyses and insights necessary for a deeper understanding of her work.

FromCultures of Creativity: The Centennial Exhibition of the Nobel Prize
Ulf Larsson, Editor
Science History Publications, $40


comments powered by Disqus
 

Connect With Us:

Facebook Icon Sm Twitter Icon Google+ Icon Pinterest Icon RSS Feed

Sigma Xi/Amazon Smile (SciNight)


Pizza Lunch Podcasts

Gene therapy

Gene therapy and genomic engineering are rapidly burgeoning areas of research. Dr. Charles Gersbach of Duke University sat down with associate editor Katie L. Burke to discuss the history of gene therapy and what we can do now that we couldn’t do even a few years ago.

Click the Title to view all of our Pizza Lunch Podcasts!


Subscribe to Free eNewsletters!

  • Sigma Xi SmartBrief:

    A free daily summary of the latest news in scientific research. Each story is summarized concisely and linked directly to the original source for further reading.

  • American Scientist Update

  • An early peek at each new issue, with descriptions of feature articles, columns, Science Observers and more. Every other issue contains links to everything in the latest issue's table of contents.

  • Scientists' Nightstand

  • News of book reviews published in American Scientist and around the web, as well as other noteworthy happenings in the world of science books.

    To sign up for automatic emails of the American Scientist Update and Scientists' Nightstand issues, create an online profile, then sign up in the My AmSci area.


EMAIL TO A FRIEND :

Subscribe to American Scientist