A Scientist in Time

If you could have practiced science in any time and any place throughout history, which would it be, and why?

That’s what they are asking us this week. And, once again, I’m going to skirt the question. You see, it depends on whether the future counts as a “place throughout history.” Currently, the future is not history, but it will be history once the future becomes the past. You’ll probably need a few minutes to digest that, as I must have just blown your mind. Or not.

My chosen place in time (yeah, I abandoned the whole history thing): the day of the $1000 genome. This is the population geneticist’s dream. All that data for next to nothing in costs. So many hypotheses to test. So many discoveries to make. We ain’t post-genomics until genome sequencing is dirt cheap and accessible to everyone, regardless of their taxon of choice.

If I am restricted to only time periods that are currently considered history, then I’d have to go with Thomas Hunt Morgan‘s lab at Columbia in the 1910s. At that time, Alfred Sturtevant was constructing the first ever genetic map, and the lab was giving birth to the field of genetics.


  1. #1 Amit
    July 20, 2006

    I agree on both your choices. No more ascertainment bias issues! I would have been so cool to be in T.H. Morgan’s lab.

  2. #2 Toothpickspider
    July 20, 2006

    I would want to be there at the beginning of social Dawinism (circa?) in Germany, and focus my research on illustrating the difference between population drift and evolution.

  3. #3 RPM
    July 20, 2006

    Amit, don’t you guys have the Applera resequence data? You don’t have ascertainment bias issues!

  4. #4 Amit
    July 22, 2006

    Yeah, I know. But I was just speaking in general. Some of my previous projects I worked on in the past have had ascertainment issues.

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