Mendel

Mendel pea traits
When I was in seventh grade, our science teacher asked us to select a scientist to write about who shared our ancestry. I chose Gregor Johann Mendel. I couldn’t find that many scientists that fit the assignment but Czech Řehoř Jan Mendel (1822-1884) checked the boxes.

He was a scientist. He was also an Augustinian friar and abbot of St. Thomas’ Abbey. He was born in a German-speaking family (like my mother) in a part of the Austrian Empire that is today’s Czech Republic. (My father’s family was from the part of the Austrian Empire that is now Slovakia.)

From 1856 to 1863, Mendel performed experiments on 28,000 edible pea plants, and from his experiments, he developed his theory of inheritance. He also came up with the idea of recombination of genes. That last one became the basis of the modern science of genetics and that is why he is considered the founder of t genetics.

Actually, Mendel’s observations were the same observations that farmers had made for millennia. They knew that crossbreeding animals and plants could favor those traits that were most desirable, But Mendel’s experiments formalized many of the rules of heredity, which are now referred to as the laws of Mendelian inheritance.

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Ken Ronkowitz

Random by design. Predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente. A lifelong educator.

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