Liquid and intellectual refreshment in S. Brenner
Laboratory biological science hasn’t changed much in the last 40 years:
What, the reader may ask, did we do in the 6 years between starting C. elegans genetics and publishing the ﬁrst article on it? Since the animal has a short life cycle of 3.5 days, it should not have taken all that much time just to complement and map the mutations. Many visitors who came to the MRC Lab in Cambridge thought that we spent far too much time eating, drinking, and talking. Observing us only during normal working hours, you could see their point. If one arrived at the lab at the reasonable hour of 10 am, there was just time to open one’s mail before adjourning to the canteen for morning coffee, usually prolonged by a very interesting discussion on some aspect of science. This did not leave much time before lunch, which naturally was also accompanied by discussion that was terminated only by rushing off to attend an afternoon seminar on the Bohr effect in hemoglobin or the like. That brought one to afternoon tea and after that there was hardly enough time to start anything in the lab before adjourning to the pub for liquid and intellectual refreshment. It was only after dinner that the real work started and the lab then ﬁlled up with the owls. Even these bouts of work had to be interrupted, of course, for midnight coffee and more discussions.
Sydney Brenner, from In the Beginning Was the Worm . . .