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General Biology Seminar

Tuesday, February 17, 2015
1:30pm to 2:30pm
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South Mudd 365
Colloids and Epigenetic Marks: A Comparison of Two Fashions, 1900 and 2000
Ute Deichmann, Jacques Loeb Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, Ben-Gurion University,

At the beginning of the 20th century a fast-rising new area of research, biocolloidy, began to dominate biological chemistry. Biocolloidists replaced the 19th-century idea of macromolecules with that of colloidal aggregates of small molecules, which were influenced by inorganic ions. At the end of the 20th century another fast-rising area of research, epigenetics, began to call into question the view that the genetic information in the genome is the major cause of heredity and development. Instead, epigenetic marks on DNA or histones, i.e. small molecules are considered at least as important as the DNA sequence, and suitable for bringing about a "Lamarckian" kind of evolution. Based on historical sketches of biocolloidy and epigenetics, I will demonstrate similarities in reasoning and attitudes across differences of time, as well as analyze the scientific and philosophical motivation behind them.


For more information, please contact Vincent Rivera by phone at x4952 or by email at [email protected].