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Frustrated ambition


Remembering my father
John Bonner Scientist
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I think I'll start with my family, and tell you a little bit about that. Because in some ways they were unusual, in very nice ways, actually. My father knew everybody, and you couldn't mention anybody's name, and he didn't say, 'Oh, I know Carl', or whoever it was. And he did. And not only that but he was usually a good friend of… And we were home one evening with - I have three brothers - the boys were in the living room and my father was reading. And we were discussing between the difference between, which I - don't ask me about - but the difference between Trotskyism, Stalinism or Leninism, and so forth. And suddenly my father interrupted and he said, 'I knew Trotsky'. And we said, 'Oh, my God, you've gone too far this time!' It turned out that in a period in his life, not a very long period, he worked as a teller at his father's bank in Brooklyn. And Trotsky used his window. And so, they'd have these long conversations through the grill. I wish that we had a transcript of those. That would be fascinating.

But anyhow, he introduced everybody to all sorts of people. He was a remarkable man because you would tell him something, and then, he would say to you that's not what you told me last year, which was a little unnerving because he could remember better our conversations than I did.

John Tyler Bonner (born in 1920) is an emeritus professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. He is a pioneer in the use of cellular slime molds to understand evolution and development and is one of the world's leading experts on cellular slime molds. He says that his prime interests are in evolution and development and that he uses the cellular slime molds as a tool to seek an understanding of those twin disciplines. He has written several books on developmental biology and evolution, many scientific papers, and has produced a number of works in biology. He has led the way in making Dictyostelium discoideum a model organism central to examining some of the major questions in experimental biology.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Leon Trotsky

Duration: 2 minutes

Date story recorded: February 2016

Date story went live: 14 September 2016