Grandpa's biology - 01


A work of popularization concerning general plant biology
- a little story experienced from day to day, in
its human, sociological, cultural
and political context.

Chalon sur Saône, 24 September 2000

Hello everyone. My name is Josephine. I'm twenty-seven years old. I have a science baccalauréat and an Arts degree. I dipped into teaching then converted to computer graphics. Why? To write a biology book. Well, yes and no, not really. This is rather a little story about biology, experienced from day to day, in its human, sociological, cultural and political context. A strange story. A strange book.

Why am I writing a book which surprises even me? Quite simply because three months ago I heard of a retired person who was looking for a "ghost writer" to write a story – doubtless his life story. It's a way of leaving evidence of one's existence for future generations. Something that helps old people pass the time…. But I was unemployed and I told myself that this kind of experience could be interesting. In any case, it wouldn't do any harm to meet the old man in question.

So I telephoned him, we met, talked and then I left:
- with a document entitled "Story of modern biology" which you can read too because it's in the next chapter (chapter 2);
- with comments on this document made by some of its first readers (chapter 3);
- and finally, with the message that if this work interested me, I could meet Grandpa (Papy in French: it's the name of my new friend) as often as necessary. He promised to tell me all he knew (I'm not really convinced though), without fibbing (I think this is true), and to leave me complete freedom as to the writing, format, pagination and illustration (he studied my book carefully and had me sit a little test). This would be done for an absolutely fair salary and a share in profits if there should be any.

You may think that I jumped for joy at such a proposition, but that's not really the case. The subject was not easy. It was indeed his life story but one of these parallel histories which Brassens would have told in song as follows:
- I don't harm anyone by following my own path…
- But good people don't like you to take a different one from theirs…

After studying the documents Grandpa had given me and with some misgivings, I accepted the job and today I am very pleased I did. It is not quite finished, but I'm sure it will please a lot of readers, particularly the youngest. It introduces them to biology in a simple and concrete way… by also letting them behind the scenes of the working world and helping them to a better understanding of certain problems which they are bound to come up against one day (thinking for example of the incompetence of certain people holding high office, not to mention general incompetence).

Two more things:

- From a "biological" point of view, this document is, above all, a work of scientific popularization concerning general plant biology (biochemistry, physiology, pathology, physiopathology and genetics). It does not pretend to say all there is to be said about everything, nor to go into details. If there are ideas which you find hard to grasp or if you would like to know more about one subject or another, do what I did – find a good dictionary. It will be a wonderful source of information.
- From a "literary" point of view, I have done my best to write as clearly and simply as possible, but I couldn't avoid inserting a few tables of figures here and there. Don't worry too much about these. They are just there so that anyone who wants to verify what I say can do so.

I'll leave you to it now. I'm going back to work. I want to insert into the book some diagrams Grandpa gave me about hormone regulation, cell function, comparative evolution of different organs etc. Have a look at these if you find anything difficult. You'll see that they make everything much easier.

presentation/contentsa work of popularizationstory of modern biologythe point of view of French citizenssome basic concepts to recallgrandpa's hypothesishow to verify this hypothesisfirst testsevolution of plants according to auxin and gibberellin treatmentshost-parasite relationsaction of the fungus on the plantaction in return of the plant on the fungusaction of the virus on the plantaction in return of the plant on the virusa plant subjected to double attack by both fungus and virusthe scientific debatethe Peter principleconclusion - answer to some questionsimages

Grandpa's biology - 01