Thursday, February 7, 2008

GDoS: Trofim Denisovich Lysenko

Possibly the best known Russian Douchebag of Science outside of Russia, Trofim Lysenko spent his entire life studying biology without getting the first clue about anything. He came to prominence in the early 1930's, rising through the ranks of the Soviet Doucheocracy through political backbiting, calumny, slander, libel and general bitchiness. By 1940 he was director of the Institute of Genetics at the USSR's Academy of Sciences, charged with improving the productivity of Soviet agriculture. By 1948, this is true, it was illegal to scientifically dissent from the crackpot patchwork of scientific hoo-ha that came to be known as Lysenkoism.

So what was Lysenkoism? Lysenko rejected not only Darwinian evolution, which was obviously true even in those days, but also Mendelian genetics. To put this in perspective for non-biologists, that is roughly equivalent to a doctor believing that sick people do not exist. Also, the doctor sentences his enemies to death by starvation.

Lysenko believed instead in a variant of Lamarkian evolution. This was more or less the idea that you can make crops grow better by yelling at them. There was also something about soaking seeds in snow to make them grow better in the winter. Lysenko was given his own journal, The Bulletin of Vernalization, to publish his breakthrough research. In later years, presumably, many Soviet citizens would try to eat the pages of that journal.

Anyhoo, the world learned its lesson from Lysenko, and to this day there has never again been political interference in the scientific process. But we shall remember him forevermore as - a Great Douchebag of Science.

This man had no clue.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Hot Haploid on Haploid Action

For those of you that don't think science is sexy or glamorous, feast your eyes on this video.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sassy Bitches of Science: Marie Curie

Marie Curie is perhaps the quintessential sassy bitch of science. She, along with her husband Pierre, discovered two radioactive elements, polonium, and radium, named for radiation, a word she also coined. For her work, she earned two (!) Nobel Prizes, one in Chemistry and one in Physics. She was the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize, the first person to receive two Nobel Prizes, and she remains the only person to have received two Prizes in two different scientific fields. Her husband shared the first Nobel Prize and her daughter, Irene, also won a Nobel in chemistry for her work on radioactivity. Wow.

She died in 1934 from aplastic anemia, having fried all of her bone marrow with radiation, since she did almost all of her experiments in a shed with no safety precautions. Some may think that this is badass, but please, don't try it at home.

Also, she is just totally HOT!