Thursday, 31 October 2013

Name the Biologist

This one is inspired by Halloween and he may have inspired someone else.

As for the last instalment - it was indeed John Tyndall. His contribution to biology was in finding a form of sterilization by creating "optically pure" air in which he rid a box of all air borne particles. He then found that food did not go off and concluded this was due to the removal of micro-organisms in the air. This backed up Pasteur's "germ theory" and his sterilization or "tyndalization" technique was used for some time.

This was pretty much an aside for Tyndall as he was a physicist at heart and was the first to come up with proof for the Greenhouse effect and an explanation for why the sky is blue. This last discovery, according to some (and Brian Cox), is the origin of the phrase "blue skies research". This type of research is curiosity driven where the scientist follows the results and/or whatever inspires their curiosity. This type of research can allow for discoveries that were never anticipated much like Tyndall's obsession with light and air particles lead to a sterilization technique (and a fireman's aspirator). These days funding agencies are far more happy to fund "objective-based science" eg cure a disease, build a fusion reactor making it harder for curiosity based scientists to get funding. Although with a little bit of inventiveness a researcher can make their research appear goal oriented )

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