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Morphogen Theory

12 March 2014

At www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120426135008.htm … biologists have discovered new mechanisms that control how proteins are expressed in different regions of embryos which seem to shed new light on how physical traits are arranged in body places. They investigated, specifically, morphogen theory, which claims proteins control traits arranged as gradients, with different amounts of protein activating genes to create specified physical features. This theory was first put forward by Alan Turing in the 1950s, the WWII code breaker. It was then refined in the 1960s by Lewis Wolpert. It is used, by some, to explain why tigers have stripes, and leopards have spots, for example. In this paper Turing's theory was found wanting (2012).

However, at www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310152158.htm — in a new paper, in PNAS, March 10th 2014, we are told that experimental research has validated Turing's theory in cell like structures (whereas the research above involved fruit flies).

In another post, at www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120219143321.htm .. researchers from Kings College in London have provided some experimental evidence which seemed to confirm how biological patterns such as stripes and spots are formed. This was published in Nature Geoscience in 2012.

Turing committed suicide when he was just 41 due to an establishment campaign to discredit him, instigating a criminal court case over his homosexuality. As he was an extremely clever chappie, cracking the German 'Enigma Code', it may be that some of his more dimwitted peers sought to rein in his career as they felt threatened and used his sexuality as an excuse to ostracise him. In the process the world lost a great scientist when he was in his prime – and one  wonders what else he would have turned his attention to had he lived another 20 years. Of course, there are always two or more ways of looking at things and one may wonder if Turing has become something of a martyr to the gay rights people. It will take some time for a true and untainted picture of what really caused him to commit suicide to come to light – but in this case one can perhaps see the hand of a rival who may have gone on to forge a career of note himself, without competition from Turing. What else might the latter have turned his mind to?

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