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Chapter 25 : A Ph.D. with Jacques Monod: Prehistory of Allosteric Proteins
By his theories and experiments, Jacques Monod permanently altered the thinking of scientists in genetics and molecular biology. Scientific discussions with him always seemed to the author like a deep-sea diving expedition in which one plunges into a new world with exciting terrain and a colorful fish flashing by at breathtaking speed. One discussion is particularly memorable to the author as illustrating the strong philosophical and Descartian logic which permeated Jacques' thinking. They were discussing their alternate theories of cooperativity which had recently appeared in the literature and in particular the role of symmetry. The more they talked the more it became apparent that the two theories were internally consistent but each proceeded from different premises. No logical argument can prove or disprove internally consistent theories any more than they can prove or disprove Euclidean versus non-Euclidean geometry. They discussed at length the analogy between scientific dangers and physical dangers. They both agreed that scientists must venture into uncharted seas to make progress and fear of the turbulence of controversy and the disaster of being wrong inevitably leads to repetitive science. Monod left contributions of great brilliance in the annals of science and memories of enchanted interludes in the hearts and minds of friends over the whole world.
Key Concept Ranking
- Protein Biosynthesis