Field of Science

Happy Birthday Gregor Mendel

Oops! Missed it. So a belated Happy Birthday, Gregor Mendel. He’d be 187 years old as of July 20th.

Here’s Gregor’s actual garden patch in Brno, Czech Republic. But instead of peas, it’s planted in flax. This is a practical matter because peas grow and develop pretty fast, so visitors to Mendel’s monastery (& genetics museum) wouldn’t be able to see the inherited characters. However flax flowers over a good long period of time so the display of flower color (blue vs. white) can be observed for weeks. The only 1st floor window in view in the wing to the rear is Gregor's room.

A very nice young lady helpfully explained the Mendelian inheritance of flower color to the Phactor, and got it wrong. The offspring of pure white and pure blue flowered plants have all blue flowers (F1s), and not blue and white in a 3:1 ratio. The bed with the 3 blue flowered plants to every 1 white flowered plant would be the F2s, the offspring of the F1s, the grandplants of the initial blue vs. white cross. Had to produce a business card to verify my scientific credentials and convince her I indeed did have it right. Easily dropped into the old intro bio mode to explain where she made the mistake.

A visit to Mendel’s old stomping grounds will expel any doubts about his being a simple old monk. The entire order to which Mendel belonged was a quantitatively inclined group busily investigating nature. His notebooks show the meticulous detail of his data including a list of all the varieties of peas he purchased and observed as a prelude to his genetic studies.

Brno also produces a darned fine beer: Starobrno. Of course all the beer in the Czech Republic is darned fine.

HT to GL for reminding me.

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