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J.B.S. Haldane
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Scientist
    (November 5, 1892-December 1, 1964)
    Born in Oxford, England, United Kingdom
    Birth name was John Burdon Sanderson Haldane
    Evolutionary biologist and geneticist
    Founder of the science of population genetics
    Wrote 'Possible Worlds and Other Essays' (1927), 'The Causes of Evolution' (1932), 'Science and Human Life' (1933), 'Science and Everyday Life' (1940), 'Science in Peace and War' (1941), 'New Paths in Genetics' (1941), 'Adventures of a Biologist' (1947) and 'What Is Life?' (1947)
    Became a citizen of India (1961)
    Brother of author Naomi Mitchison
    While studying respiration, he taught himself how to speak while inhaling as well exhaling so he could talk continuously, making it even more difficult than before for anyone talking with him to get a word in.
    After he and several volunteers suffered ruptured eardrums in decompression experiments, he noted 'the drum generally heals up; and if a hole remains in it, although one is somewhat deaf, one can blow tobacco smoke out of the ear in question, which is a social accomplishment.'
    He joined the British Communist Party.
    He wrote, 'I had gastritis for about fifteen years until I read Lenin and other writers, who showed me what was wrong with society and how to cure it.'
    Out of Party loyalty, he initially refused to denounce Trofim Lysenko's genetic theories despite knowing that they were nonsense.
    As late as 1962, he called Stalin 'a very great man who did a very good job.'
    Soviet intelligence cables decoded after his death indicate that he actively spied for the USSR.
    While serving with the British Army's Black Watch regiment in WWI, his commander called him 'the bravest and dirtiest officer in my army.'
    His novel 'Daedulus' predicted test-tube babies and influenced Aldous Huxley's 'Brave New World.'
    He served as his own guinea pig in experiments, such as exposing himself to chlorine gas to test gas mask designs.
    He eventually left the Communist Party (1950), partly over Lysenko's success in getting Medelian genetics banned in the Soviet Union.
    One biographer said he was 'probably the most erudite biologist of his generation, and perhaps of the century.'
    He famously observed, 'My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.'
    He said, 'All theories have four stages of acceptance: (1) this is worthless nonsense; (2) this is an interesting, but perverse, point of view; (3) this is true, but quite unimportant; (4) I always said so.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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