26 June 2012

Science on a pea

The exhibition "Science on a Pea" (Darwin Museum, June 25 – August 19) is dedicated to the anniversaries of three remarkable scientists at once – the 190th anniversary of the birth of G.I. Mendel, the 140th anniversary of the birth of N. K. Koltsov and the 130th anniversary of the birth of M. P. Sadovnikova-Koltsova. What binds together these three bright and distinctive figures – an Austrian monk who stood at the origins of genetics, a Russian zoologist and cytologist who founded the national school of evolutionary biology, and a beautiful zoopsychologist?

The guiding thread of the exhibition was genetics, a science born from the experiments set by G. Mendel on seed peas.

The exhibition will tell you why the choice of peas as an object of heredity research was so successful. And if, following Mendel, you do not just cross pea varieties with each other, but also count how many descendants you get, then the mechanism of transmission of traits from generation to generation will become clear.

The exhibits of the exhibition will help to trace the formation of N.K. Koltsov as a scientist.

Preparations for the individual development of the frog and the bones of the shoulder and pelvic girdle of different vertebrates will tell us that N.K.Koltsov started his way into science as a comparative anatomist. In the future, the scientist devoted more than forty years to the study of the organization of the cell. At the exhibition you will see both ten–legged crayfish (the study of the structure of their spermatozoa allowed the scientist to discover the most important element of the cellular structure - the cytoskeleton) and drawings from the works of Nikolai Konstantinovich. On most of N.K. Koltsov's publications presented at the exhibition, you can find a donation inscription from the author to the founder of the Darwin Museum A.F. Kotsu.

N.K. Koltsov also made a considerable contribution to the development of genetics. He owns the first work on the genetics of guinea pigs; visiting the exhibition, you will find out which genes control the diversity of coloring of these cute pets. But N.K.Koltsov is even more significant as a theorist of genetics. He predicted the matrix principle of reproduction of heredity molecules, initiated work on the artificial production of mutants and artificial parthenogenesis (reproduction without fertilization).

Like most prominent Soviet geneticists, in the 20s of the XX century N.K. Koltsov became interested in eugenics – the science of improving the human race. Eugenics was closely related to the nascent human genetics. At the exhibition, you will be able to see materials from the Russian Eugenic journal on the study of identical twins, and also make sure by studying the pedigree of N.K. Koltsov himself that his talent was largely hereditary.

Ebullient energy, great erudition, the ability to attract and infect young people with their enthusiasm, a rare sense of newness in science gave N. K. Koltsov the opportunity to become the creator of the Russian school of evolutionary biology. You will learn the details of the creation of the first biological research institute in Russia and see what wonderful scientists N.K. Koltsov's students have become.

M. P. Sadovnikova-Koltsova, N. K. Koltsov's companion, faithful friend and colleague, was both an independent and a bright scientist. She managed to collect a unique collection illustrating the behavior of animals, the best part of which is on display at the exhibition.

By visiting the exhibition, you will learn how a midwife toad takes care of her children, what a baby hummingbird's nest looks like, what virtuosos builders ants, wasps, beetles and termites can be.

The exhibition is organized jointly by the State Darwin Museum, the Memorial Cabinet-Museum of N. I. Vavilov and the Archive of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru26.06.2012

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