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Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index G > Category: Gradient

Gradient Quotes (2 quotes)

I took him [Lawrence Bragg] to a young zoologist working on pattern formation in insect cuticles. The zoologist explained how disturbances introduced into these regular patterns pointed to their formation being governed by some kind of gradient. Bragg listened attentively and then exclaimed: “Your disturbed gradient behaves like a stream of sand running downhill and encountering an obstacle.” “Good heavens,” replied the zoologist, “I had been working on this problem for years before this simple analogy occurred to me and you think of it after twenty minutes.”
As quoted in David Phillips, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society (Nov 1979), 25, 132, citing: Perutz, M.F. 1971 New Sci. & Sci. J. 8 July 1967.
Science quotes on:  |  Analogy (46)  |  Sir Lawrence Bragg (12)  |  Disturbance (19)  |  Disturbed (2)  |  Downhill (2)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Formation (54)  |  Insect (57)  |  Obstacle (21)  |  Pattern (56)  |  Sand (25)  |  Simple (111)  |  Zoologist (10)

It seems to me that the view toward which we are tending is that the specificity in gene action is always a chemical specificity, probably the production of enzymes which guide metabolic processes along particular channels. A given array of genes thus determines the production of a particular kind of protoplasm with particular properties—such, for example, as that of responding to surface forces by the formation of a special sort of semipermeable membrane, and that of responding to trivial asymmetries in the play of external stimuli by polarization, with consequent orderly quantitative gradients in all physiologic processes. Different genes may now be called into play at different points in this simple pattern, either through the local formation of their specific substrates for action, or by activation of a mutational nature. In either case the pattern becomes more complex and qualitatively differentiated. Successive interactions of differentiated regions and the calling into play of additional genes may lead to any degree of complexity of pattern in the organism as a largely self-contained system. The array of genes, assembled in the course of evolution, must of course be one which determines a highly self­regulatory system of reactions. On this view the genes are highly specific chemically, and thus called into play only under very specific conditions; but their morphological effects, if any, rest on quantitative influences of immediate or remote products on growth gradients, which are resultants of all that has gone on before in the organism.
In 'Genetics of Abnormal Growth in the Guinea Pig', Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology (1934), 2, 142.
Science quotes on:  |  Activation (5)  |  Asymmetry (4)  |  Channel (17)  |  Complexity (80)  |  Enzyme (14)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Gene (68)  |  Growth (111)  |  Membrane (11)  |  Metabolism (11)  |  Morphological (2)  |  Mutation (25)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Organism (126)  |  Pattern (56)  |  Physiology (66)  |  Polarization (2)  |  Protoplasm (12)  |  Qualitative (12)  |  Quantitative (15)  |  Reaction (59)  |  Simplicity (126)  |  Stimulus (18)  |  Trivial (30)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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