Patrick Bateson in conversation with Gabriel Horn 13th July 2007
Filmed by Alan Macfarlane
0:07:09 AM: How did your collaboration begin?
PB: Did PhD on process called imprinting in young birds; went to Stamford to work with Karl Pribram on the neural basis of behaviour; back in Cambridge resumed work on imprinting; memory of meeting with Gabriel in King's and discussed interest in neural basis of imprinting; Gabriel was interested in habituation; began to see the possibility of combining our interests; Gabriel went to Uganda so we didn't start our collaboration until 1967, two years later; we started by looking at a particular enzyme of birds that had been imprinted and found some changes; looked round for a neural chemist who could work with us and started collaborating with Leslie Iversen; did several experiments but not very conclusive; then we both gave a talk to a group in London hosted by Steven Rose; he had been working on exposure to light in rats and was very keen to collaborate; we started this collaboration in about 1968; we were looking at changes in the synthesis of protein and got some results that were quite interesting; then we moved to the precursor of protein, RNA, that needs to be synthesised in order to build protein and that gave more interesting clear cut results; at that point we really started to think clearly about the issue and realized that there were so many other things going on when a young bird starts to learn about the characteristics of the pseudo-mother; they run around more, are stimulated more visually, they get excited; all sorts of things could be producing these changes in the brain; then we started to think about what sorts of controls we could do; even at that stage we realized that no one experiment was going to solve all the problems
5:48:12 GH: My recollection of our meeting is almost exactly the same; I had been supervising in College and I was late for Hall; I rushed in and there was a queue, and there were you in the queue; so we stood together and walked in together; that was purely chance, a wonderful piece of coincidence, arising out of the collegiate structure; in those early days when we didn't know what to look for there was a lot of interest in this enzyme and there was a technique available for studying it, staining it with a dye; we had a new microscope in the Department of Anatomy where you could compare two images, so we did see differences; after that remember after the meeting, discussing whether we should ask Steven Rose to collaborate; you were going to another meeting at the Royal Society and asked him there; another thing that was important for me was that Robert Hinde and I had organized a conference, on short term changes in nervous behaviour, at King's in 1969; you gave a paper on the huge difficulties of interpreting a brain change from the behaviour; you compared all sorts of traditional controls that were being used in the behavioural sciences at that time and showed that many of them were totally inadequate
PB: I think my chapter was called 'Are they really the product of learning'
GH: That was the time we had to think; we would sit in my room discussing strategies for designing experiments
8:56:01 PB: Going back to that conversation at high table; the Nobel committee have made a film about prizes; they came to interview me at King's about the importance of the collegiate atmosphere in the winning of Nobel prizes; I gave the example of this long collaboration with Gabriel which started at a meeting over dinner; the sociality of it and the alcohol, all adds together to create a sense of stimulation and enormous interest in the person you are talking to; it was a very important context for starting a long collaboration
GH: I had this collaboration with John Griffiths; he was a Fellow of King's and we developed a friendship; I remember him coming into hall one day having read a book on the nervous system, he was a theoretical chemist, saying "If you can tell me how a neuron works I'll tell you how the brain works"; we jostled over this ridiculous remark as there is no singularity of neuron, but he became very interested in the nervous system and we published a paper together; another instance of how collaboration takes place; I think that when you have informal circumstances, one develops friendships
PB: To continue the story; one of the first controls that we used a crucial structure of the birdís brain ; all the fibres from one eye go to the opposite side of the brain; there is a connection between the two sides of the brain but it occurs later in the neural pathway; Gabriel was able to develop a technique for splitting the two halves of the brain without cutting the visual input; one could have one part of the brain which was receiving input and the other part, not, if you cover up one eye; it was a marvellous bit of surgery for developing a split brain animal where you train one side of the brain and the other side is untrained; that procedure produced an extraordinary result; a very clear difference was found in one specific region of the brain when we compared the trained with the untrained side
GH: Had to develop a special knife and an instrument on a framework; it had of course been done on other mammals and even in humans, but their size makes it easier
PB: You have to be careful because if you cut too far back you blind the bird, so it has to be done with great precision; anyway, it worked, and that was our first control; the difficulty still was that the trained side of the brain was more stimulated visually than the untrained side; we didn't know that it is necessarily related to something to do with the storage of a memory, it could be something entirely non-specific just to do with exciting the brain; so we had to develop other techniques; one was just to exploit the variation you get in chicks; some are much more active than others and some learn more quickly; we then simply relied on a correlation between the things that we could measure in behaviour and the changes in the brain; that came up with the result that again, when it was to do with learning there was a strong correlation, but how active the chick was or how quickly it started to run were not correlated; so we could use the correlation technique to say there was something about this bit of the brain that was special; this was the second technique that we used
14:16:19 GH: We didn't know which bit of the brain it was; if you give the theoretical background to this, Karl Lashley had proposed that the memory is distributed throughout the brain; any idea that memories were localized in a particular region was simply not on; he had spent his life working on it; when we began our work this climate very greatly influenced the thinking; we were in some sense tainted by it; what we did was to divide the brain up into three bits; although the size of a chick brain is 1cm from front to back it contains many millions of nerve cells, so we were looking at a pretty large chunk; nevertheless it was in that chunk that we got these effects of changes in biochemistry which were very strongly related to learning
PB: The final experiment we did before we went on to much more detailed analysis was an ingenious experiment in which we trained one lot of birds for a little bit of time and another lot for a long period; then a day later we trained both groups for the same amount of time; that was when we were measuring the synthesis of RNA in the brain; the beautiful result there was that the over-trained birds which had already learnt as much as they could showed much less synthesis than the under-trained birds; this control showed that biochemical activity in the specific region of the brain that we had previously implicated in the imprinting procedure was actually related to the learning process and not to just being active as both groups were equally active; I am still very proud of that experiment
GH: So am I, but it was the three together...
PB: The three together... one bearing on a mountain does not tell you where the mountain is, you need to have more; each experiment was eliminating a different subset of possibilities; putting them all together then led to a very robust conclusion; the bit of the brain that was active and leading to structural changes, was the one most likely to be associated with the storage of information; that conclusion led on to much more careful studies to localise....
17:26:03 GH: It is worthwhile saying that those experiments took a long time to do; we first published in 1969 and the last of that series was published in 1975; of course, the 1969 paper was built on work done from 1967, so we were refining our methods; I remember that the experiments were done and the samples sent off coded to Steven Rose at Imperial College, and we never knew what the answer was until the results came in and Pat had decoded the biochemical results
PB: They were done blind...
GH: That we regard as necessary; stemmed in part from the days we worked with Les and I don't think we were doing it blind in that way; afterwards we realized that we had to, and ever since then we have always worked blind; I think it is crucial; this work is sensitive to all sorts of variation and you must diminish them
PB: There is a massive amount of work done by psychologists on if you have an expectation about the result it affects how you handle the data; in my field, many people don't do their work blind; they know which way the animals or people have been treated, and you get the extraordinary halo effects that influence the results enormously; I think it crucial; knowing how the animals have been treated can sometimes account for all of the variation; there is a big lesson to learn there
GH: I remember you used to phone me and say these are the results and I was always uncertain that we could replicate the previous results; it always came as a surprise to me because at that time there was such consistency in the data; the next step was that, given we had found these rather crude biochemical changes, all it meant was that if new proteins were being made there will be more component parts needed for these proteins; we took a component part which in the case of ribose nucleic acid is uracil and made it radioactive, so in areas where new proteins were being made, in that area where they were being made more quickly, you would see a higher level of incorporation into that tissue; it was all pretty crude stuff, but what we needed now if we were going further on the localization, is the memory localised to a particular brain region, would be to do what is called auto-radiographic technique which is to try to find out where that radioactive probe is in the brain and to do so precisely; that was a rather massive undertaking; by that stage I had gone to Bristol but we still collaborated; Steven had gone on his own way and there was a gap of a year or so; while I was in Bristol we imprinted chicks using that two day technique that you described; then we had to cut sections through the brain; in what we call the roof part, I had to measure some twenty-nine different regions using the microscope to make the measurements; the slides were randomized so I did not know which was which; I would not let anyone else do it although I was still running the department; every afternoon I would go and sit at this awful task at the microscope; the results came out that there was an increase in a very particular region of the brain which we called IMHV; I remember Steven Rose phoning me and he asked where the region in the brain was; I said that I couldnít tell him until we had published the data; occasionally these things get out and someone scoops it; when you submitted a paper to a journal then it took eighteen months; I finally capitulated and let Steven know what the region was and he then went off and referred to it in a lecture; in the audience were one or two people from Japan, Takamatsu was one, and he went off and replicated the experiment and found the same result, and he published in the same journal as us; however, he published a short note which took six months so he got it published in the same year; often I read some of the Japanese literature and it refers to that result rather than to ours; to give him credit, somehow he had got hold of the reference to us and did refer to us; it is an example how one can make a mistake but it is difficult when you have a friend pressing you.
24:30:18 AM: There must be a tension between collaborative work and hiding your results
PB: It is a real tension and it is much worse in some subjects than in others; molecular biology is horrific because of fear that someone else will do your experiment and publish before you; in my field nobody cares that much because they are all doing different things
GH: In what is called the meat sciences there is a lot of competition; the tensions are very real; Steven was working on another form of learning in chicks so left us with something else; he immediately went to see whether his form of learning involved the same region as ours; they published six years after us; interesting that they tend to refer to IMHV and their paper as the source of it; occasionally I have to say that the first paper was published in 1979 and not 1985; after that we realized that the neurobiological world would not be very interested in what we were doing unless we were able to show that the findings held true if we destroyed the area as all this was correlational, however good our controls were; suggest we should put a lesion, destroy the piece of tissue and stop the animals from learning; it did; the next question was if you put the lesion after they had been trained and memory formed, you should abolish the memory; it did; did had a total of four lesion experiments and they all pointed to exactly the same thing; I think many people in the world are not persuaded yet and I don't know how one can; in the mammalian world there is very little evidence for localization except in olfactory work; I was talking to Brenda Milner who was the person who was involved in the first lesion experiment in humans; the man had epilepsy and they removed the region of the brain called the hippocampus and he had a very severe effect on memory; he could not acquire new memories; this triggered off a huge amount of work which is still going on in the animal as well as human world; when I ask Brenda what she thought the hippocampus is doing she had said that she hasn't any idea; it remains a mystery; Malcolm Brown has shown from electrophysiology that what was claimed that it would do in memory it does not do; it is some other region that was hooked up in the lesion when Brenda Milner's surgeon did the operation on this human being they necessarily could not restrict the lesion to suck up that bit of brain but took quite a bit more; it turns out that it was the other bit that they sucked up that was doing the damage rather than the hippocampus itself; I think the issue very far from being solved; the only way to persuade anyone that we do have localization is to encourage them to read the whole build-up; it is not only the biochemical work which was a self-contained unit, the predictions that are made from it about lesions, for example, to a restricted area but not others are also consistent; since then, as you gradually withdrew a little from it, we began to think of theoretical aspects of it as well; we went on to other molecular biological aspects; what is going on in this brain region and electrophysiological studies recording from single nerve cells in there; but in our collaboration we did go on to think out how you might model the function of this brain region
31:10:13 PB: Going back one step, nowadays we have all sorts of imaging techniques that are available to see where bits of brain are active - PET scans etc. - and they generate wonderful pictures, but we don't know whether the site of activity is upstream or downstream or to the side of the effect in which we are interested; people forget that and don't do all the necessary controls and as a result there is a vast amount of literature that we simply can't interpret properly; at a very early stage in our collaboration we had been talking about how we might start to model the effects we had discovered, however we did not publish anything
GH: When I was in Bristol we used to see each other about once a month; we did that experiment of stimulating the brain,† talked about theoretical work, and used to work long hours on this model; I said I didn't think it was very interesting as I thought there was nothing new in it, so it was entirely my fault that we didn't move on; then, several years later when I had come back from Bristol to Cambridge, I was at a meeting in Oxford on networks; I saw the main speaker put up a model that I could have sworn had been rifled from our files; I was shocked, and came back grovelling as I felt I had done you a great disservice; had we published that paper at the time we were writing it we would have scooped the field; it was absolutely new; but for me I did not see any new principals of neurobiology, what I failed to grasp was the fact that there were new ideas for artificial intelligence
PB: I spent an awful lot of time developing computer programs to simulate this which were realistic, both at the behavioural level and at the neural level; these programs were actually very remarkable because they were simulating exactly what we had been finding, and simulating a lot of the biology; they were also throwing up things we hadn't really expected; there is a remarkable process which we are all familiar with, known as developing polymorphous concepts; there may be a variety of things by which you recognise something but not all of those things will be present all of the time; it is very difficult for humans if you only have a subset to categorise them; our neural net model would also have difficulty with it unless it had been exposed to pure sets which had all the components of one category and of the other category; you train it for quite a long time and then you start to take away some of the characteristics, and then it generalizes very well; what was regarded as an extremely difficult cognitive problem actually turns out to be simple principals of generalization; neither of us expected that feature of the model to come out, but it did; the other thing that I thought was very exciting was that we know that very detailed little things about the mother are important in distinguishing her from another mother; what we found with the model was that even things that weren't very exciting to the model to begin with, if they were associated with things that were exciting and had high value, by degrees the things that had low value became more and more important; by the time the model was well trained it would do what an expert birdwatcher will do in recognizing a type of bird as it flashes past; that was another nice thing that came out, that you could train it to recognise very fine features, which an animal has to do on the basis of rather limited information
GH: The computer model was based on what we knew of our chicks so had a very strong neural basis as well as behavioural basis
PB: It did have a lot of interesting consequences; we eventually published it long after we might have done
PB: This work was published in the early 1990's, when there were lots of people working on neural networks
GH: We had begun when I went to Bristol in 1974 and we were onto this
PB: I have a sketch of the model that we finally used drawn ten years before
GH: Mine was all dusty and yellowing when I went back to it
PB: I guess that was our last bit of collaboration, but that was about thirty years after we had started
39:45:09 AM: How long did you spend with each other?
GH: In the early days of our collaboration we spent hours and hours, walking and talking, or in our room; I remember one lovely walk alongside the brook that runs under Brooklands Avenue..
PB: I had an allotment there...
GH: That was one occasion when we thought up an experiment in which the question was could you implant a memory in a brain; always thought it was impossible to do, but we knew that chicks were able to discriminate lights flashing at different frequency; we did do an experiment which involved planting electrodes into what we now know to be IMHV (IMM as it is now known), and giving pulses at the frequency of a flashing light; one group of chicks had a frequency of 4.5 per second the other at 1.5; you match it for the number of pulses; then after you finish that you give the chick a choice between a real light in the outside world which is flashing at 4.5 per second and a light which is flashing at 1.5; the chicks with the 4.5 stimulation went for the 4.5 in real light and the chicks trained at 1.5 went for 1.5; it did not happen when we put the electrodes in another bit of the brain which it should have done had it been a trivial observation; that also did not elicit much interest; one day, many years afterwards, I had come home from the Department of Zoology; my wife, Prill, said it was wonderful being married to a famous person - obviously ironic; what had happened was that a thriller had been published, the centrality of which was that someone had had a memory implanted in their brain by electrical stimulation; the key was, according to the detective, that if you wanted to know the answer you better read the paper by Horn et al, Cambridge scientists; Prill had just read this book
PB: It was such an implausible experiment but it did work
GH: Implausible except people had been saying that if you want to demonstrate an area brain involved in memory you ought to be able to implant a memory in that region and that is precisely what we did
PB: That was the result of a long walk; we also used to walk along Devils Dyke
GH: In Bristol we would walk around Clifton, the tall figure of Pat in an utterly disreputable overcoat
PB: My tramp coat...
GH: Otherwise it would be intense discussion with bits of paper; I don't remember alcohol when we were talking about experiments; after we had done an experiment at Madingley we used to go out to a pub at Dry Drayton and have a ploughman's lunch and half a pint of beer; that was the only drinking that was done; on the drinking at King's when we first met - he is younger than I and had just become a Fellow; the beauty of King's is that it is non-hierarchical, sitting next to someone, having a glass of wine, and they ask you what you do; then it begins to flow more easily; I think it is just made for intellectual interactions; I have had more than one but Pat's is the longest and most sustained
46:28:17 AM: How did you deal with the difficulties of co-publishing your work?
PB: We alternated authorship
GH: And where it was clear that one had done more than the other, for example the brain lesion stuff, that my name would come first, and for the ...radiography; for many of the behavioural papers, your name came first; the order of name was important for us
PB: It is a potential source of conflict and is particularly difficult when you have more junior people involved; I had a practice of allowing my graduate students to publish on their own as felt that my name being there would actually interfere with their subsequent careers; not all people feel that but I did
GH: I did not do that; when I had research students I spent a tremendous amount of time teaching them the techniques, and designing the experiments for them, particularly in electrophysiology; they needed help all the time and it was also part of my own research activities, but I always put their name first; certainly with my junior colleagues now, where I will have designed the experiment, taught them what to do and analysed the results....
PB: There has been a change of culture with Research Assessment Exercise, now you have to do it to claim credit for your department; that has been imposed on us really
GH: I think in the behavioural sciences there was very much more the tradition of letting the person write...
PB: And there would be much more of their own individual effort, working on their own; I would spend time with my students but don't think I ever spent as much time as you did training them
49:38:23 AM: Would it be true to say that without your collaboration many of the things you were trying to do would have been impossible?
GH: I would say unequivocally that the things I have done could not have been done without that collaboration with Pat; was Pat unique in his knowledge - if I had got someone else with the skills in imprinting in the behavioural sciences, in principal I could have done it - but it so happens that Pat was very nearly unique in the world at that time; it was my good fortune; the other thing was that we clicked, we liked each other; if there had been another Pat intellectually in the knowledge of imprinting, I might not have got on well with him and the whole thing collapse; the fact that we got on well together, that our families got on well, and we are very close friend still, and had the community of the College to keep us together in our professional lives; we kept together in the laboratory, even though initially we had our own laboratories; when I went to Bristol we had to contrive our meetings; then when I came to Zoology we were in the same department; there was a different dimension of the College where we would meet and have a common interest within it which was the College; the third dimension was the joint work, but I think it was the amalgam without which it couldn't have been sustained
PB: It was interesting that because we spent so much time together we realized that quite often we were punning, using words in slightly different ways, so we would sometimes pass each other by in our discussions; I think it happens often when people from different backgrounds start to work together, they are using the same words in different ways and it takes time to discover that; you need to work together for a long time before you know that actually you are using language rather differently from each other; I find that very interesting and I see it too now with people who are trying to collaborate and falling out because they don't understand each other; can't remember whether we built up a language for communicating...
GH: The acronym that we had for the bit of the brain, that was a code, but it is known throughout the world by people who know about this region of the brain...
PB: Not consciously, but I am sure that if I had been describing what we were doing it may have been opaque to the listener, but we knew what we were talking about; I had an interesting experience when I gave lectures as a University Lecturer, and I thought it important that the students acquire some of the jargon of the subject; the lecture was studded with jargon and we have a questionnaire at the end of our lectures and the students complained about the jargon; decided to do my lectures in plain English the following year; when I started to turn my lectures into plain English, even I did not understand some of the terms; it was quite salutary
54:29:22 AM: Is there any truth in Einstein's remark about the need for absurd ideas?
PB: We did have long discussions, very often with Steven Rose, and Steven didn't properly take the point about the difficulty of sorting out the things that were always confounded; we had almost philosophical discussion on how could you be sure that what you were dealing with was both necessary for and exclusively related to the storage of information
GH: That was about linguistic difference and the use of language, and those views on not needing to control for these various factors is still widespread
PB: Having absurd ideas I am not sure about, certainly having inchoate ideas is another matter; certainly we would have ideas that were not properly formulated so in a sense they might have seemed absurd, but more likely they would seem undeveloped and need work; that is much more a feature of the conceptual problems that one can have in a subject; you have a glimmering of what it might be like to do certain things and then as you think more and more about it, it crystallises; that is more like the pattern than you would come out with ideas that were ridiculous
GH: I think the only time we did something that we thought was ridiculous was that brain stimulation experiment; as we were walking along and this idea comes up in the conversation, I can't be certain about it but it did seem a bit way out, but it wasn't conceptually absurd; people had spoken about it and couldn't do it and we thought of a way that we could; Einstein's remark applies more to physicists, cosmologists, mathematicians perhaps than it does to biologists; certainly our work on imprinting was radically different from what anyone else was doing; it was probably the first way forward after the years of depressing work by Lashley putting in brain lesions where they couldn't find any effects in mammals; our work could not be described as absurd but just very logical
PB: Gabriel rather implied that people haven't taken any notice of this work, but I think it worth saying that Gabriel got the Royal Medal of the Royal Society, which is one of its most distinguished medals for this work and all the detailed molecular biology that followed from it, so it was recognised
1:00:18:08 GH: It is slightly puzzling to me that though the work is quite well known in Europe, Japan, India, China and people know about it in the States, but very little research has been done on imprinting and therefore our work on the memorial aspects of it, we have many firsts in advancing the understanding of how that image that the chick acquires as it learns, we have a very good idea now of what actually goes on in the brain and in the memory; our electron-microscopy study was the first to show that the junctions between neuron actually change and specifying actually what the change was; that is almost never referred to in the U.S
AM: Is this a problem with American perceptions of what is past?
GH: They did pick up the habituation work from Europe and taken to the States and was developed in this way; they are well known for not citing European literature in general, it is not just neuroscience;
AM: Were either of you ever tempted to move to the States?
PB: I was tempted to go to the States in the late 1980's and felt I had been in Cambridge for a long time; I did do a post-doc in the States and had a number of visiting chairs, but I did feel that I wanted to get out of England at that point; I went to Berkeley and was quite tempted to stay there but then the election for Provost came up here and I decided to stay in Cambridge
GH: I would not have gone; after my father's death all my close family migrated to the States; when I went there I experienced both academia and the life my family had; they were not rich and I realized the problems of not having health insurance or pensions; I would have not necessarily suffered as they might, but had I a prolonged illness I would have lost my insurance; realized that the US was a wonderful place to go to if you were single, young, healthy, and if married, don't have children; given the vagaries of life, I couldn't have an expectation of all those things, so I was not attracted; the American dream favours 30% of the people, and with its inequities is a return to nineteenth century Europe
PB: I questioned a surgeon friend in US on how much he would charge when he operated on a patient. He replied $10,000
1:08:10:06 PB: I am not sure I would have gone to the States but I have a lot of rather good experiences of working with colleagues there; it is probably correct that the kind of atmosphere that we have in Cambridge is extraordinary; I agree too about productivity, certainly in the past all the innovative ideas in my field were coming out of England and very little out of the States
GH: Although I sound anti-American, I am talking about the social structure; that is not to say that we don't have problems here but we do have a system for catching people who are deprived; however, I used to love going to the States; I liked the academics there and the discussions I had, and did like the ambience; but asking a colleague at Berkeley what technical assistance he got from his department, he got nothing; I particularly need a lot of equipment and assistance for my research, some of which is provided by my department; in the States there was nothing; your stipend was for nine months of the year and you spent the other three months hoping to get money from the research institutes and you had no technicians; if your grant expired you had nothing; even a phone call was charged; this was in the 1960's and 1970's; we don't have that situation here; on the other hand, if you go to a large research institute where everything was funded and you could do your own thing, that would be great as the equipment would be superb
PB: If you look around Europe, the German way of doing things is to take their best scientists and put them into Max Plank institutes; some of them work very well but I can think of quite a few where there are extremely good scientists with everything they need, and they go to sleep; in the French system, if you become part of the CNRS you have a job for life and people become unproductive after a while; there is a kind of stimulus in a place where you are in touch with the young who will come and question your assumptions
GH: I think that is crucial; the exposure to young minds, and especially the young minds that come to Cambridge, they are very bright young people; I have been challenged in a most marvellous way teaching first year undergraduates; of course, in a research institute you have all the equipment, you don't have to apply for grants, but you are deprived of this source of intellectual stimulation; I am in this situation because I chose to be; I find that when I contrast working in a laboratory at CNRS in Paris, there were no students, and for me that sort of place was hollow; the interactions were rather inconsequential, the people would be coming in extremely late and not being sure what they wanted to do; no stimulus to do very much and no challenges; this can't be true all over but there is a risk; in this atmosphere, especially in the collegiate system, where you meet people from other disciplines as well; those other disciplines - you were in behavioural science, I was in anatomy, how would I have come across a behavioural scientist? - the same is true for John Griffith, a mathematician - how would I have come across such people without some melting pot of intellectual discourse which a college is; you get so bored with students at times, especially after doing it for a number of years, but there is a real benefit
PB: There is a trade-off; I see colleagues who go into universities where there is a mass of teaching and too much student contact, and they suffer and don't produce anything ever again
GH: I remember Berkeley I taught a pretty heavy load for the period I was there but the assistant and full professors had huge teaching loads and laboratory classes; although some of the labs were run by their PhD students, they were responsible for them; the contact time they had with students was huge; I asked one of them how he got time to do any of his own research; he was in his late thirties and had published some good papers; he said he never went in the lab but told his research students what to do and they would bring the results; he had no time to learn new techniques
1:17:23:00 AM: What about going further east?
PB: Singapore is incredible; an enormous amount of work is going to move there; one company is going because they are so harassed by animal rights people; the Singapore Government pours an enormous amount of money into science
GH: It took Sydney Brenner there and other distinguished people...
PB: They have very good students as the education system is so good; I have no experience of Japan or China, but I was very impressed by Taiwan where they have an extremely good schooling system and they are very well trained; a lot of things we are loosing through sheer incompetence they are taking a lot of trouble with
GH: Our own colleague, Michael Bate, a very distinguished developmental biologist, spends a great deal of time in Bangalore and loves it; they have a research institute there headed by a King's man; I employed a Chinese post-doc; he had done a medical degree in China, then did a PhD in Brazil, then he came to work with us, and now he is in the States; there is a Sinification of science, especially in the States; the fact that 9/11 reduced the intake of people from the far east into the States has had a near catastrophic effect on science there; I remember attending a meeting here about three years ago when the president of the American Academy of Sciences who aired this problem of the restriction on foreign graduates; a colleague here, a professor of Chinese, told me about the Sinification of science and I realized that a lot of papers in my field were by lead scientists who are Chinese; I don't know much about science in China myself, but do know that Tom Blundell thinks very highly indeed of their biotechnology and they are moving at tremendous speed
PB: They are turning less and less to the West now they feel sufficiently confident about what they are doing
GH: Many are going back; that is a deliberate policy; I had the pleasure about five years ago of meeting the Chinese Minister for Education; I asked him about investment and he said that 15% GDP was going into higher education - an astonishingly high figure; they are pouring money into scientific institutions with the clear intention of making first class science facilities, but also drawing back those who have gone abroad
PB: A Chinese Research Fellow was here who, during the Cultural Revolution worked on a pig farm, where he had taught himself English, higher maths, and advanced physics, in his spare time; he had got to Australia and then came here; an incredibly nice, very bright man; although he had all these ghastly experiences as a young man, he went back to China