Werner Arber (1984) - On the Unforeseeability of Foreseeable Manifestations of Life (German Presentation)

Werner Arber (1984)

On the Unforeseeability of Foreseeable Manifestations of Life (German Presentation)

Werner Arber (1984)

On the Unforeseeability of Foreseeable Manifestations of Life (German Presentation)

Comment

Werner Arber has a long record of involvement with the Lindau Meetings, beginning in 1981 when he gave his first lecture there. After some years he even became a member of the organizational council(das Kuratorium), where he has served since the early 1990’s. When you listen to the present lecture you can hear a speaker who was exceptionally well organized and in complete control of the lecture, which has a well-defined introduction, some topical examples and an interesting ending. The subject matter is whether our lives are fully determined by genes or not. This question derives from the work that is contained in the first part of the citation by Karolinska Institutet when Werner Arber received his Nobel Prize. This happened about 20 years after he, as a young research associate in Geneva, made the initial discovery leading to the concept of restriction enzymes. He is not the only Nobel Laureate who has been rewarded for work partly done as a PhD student and post doctorate research associate, but he belongs to a clear minority. For the introduction to the lecture in Lindau, he brought pedagogical molecular models to explain about the structure of the genes in DNA and how they lead to the production of specific proteins. As one example, he then described how viruses that enter bacteria sometimes have their DNA split up and can add their own genes to the DNA of the bacteria. This is an inherently unpredictable process in nature but is useful in the laboratory because it can be influenced by external conditions. As a conclusion, Arber discussed the evolution of micro-organisms, which through precisely the probability element in the process of modifications of their DNA may have been able to reach the diversity we find on Earth today

Anders Bárány

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