Flowers he loved

Yesterday I wrote of people ruining everything in the quest for personal gain. Gregor Johann Mendel was responsible for the discovery of one of the most important breakthroughs in biology in modern history. While Darwin was celebrated as a genius, Mendel was barely recognised for his work.

Thirty years after Mendel’s death, a trio of scientists, working independently to prove the same theory, came across his papers. As Hugo de Vries noted at the time. “Modesty is a virtue, yet one gets further without it”: as he went on to print the findings of his experiment as his own work without reference to Mendel in 1900 (he was ousted just three months later).

It took a British chap named William Bateson to champion the ideas of Mendel and to see that recognition was made of this far reaching discovery. In the process he coined a new science that would dominate the 1900’s. Mendel had discovered the existence of genes.

These notes are distilled from a fantastic book I’m enjoying; ‘The Gene, an intimate history‘ by Siddhartha Mukherjee.