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In 1929 the British biologist John Burdon Sanderson Haldane published a hypothesis on the origin of life on earth, which was one of the most emblematic of the interwar period. It was a scenario describing the progressive evolution of matter on the primitive earth and the emergence of life. Firstly, this paper presents the main ideas put forward by Haldane in this famous text.The second part makes comparisons between Haldane and Alexander Ivanovitch Oparin’s ideas regarding the origins of life (1924). These two theories, apparently very similar, presented distinct conclusions. The third part focusses on Haldane’s reflections on the emergence of life during the 1950s and 1960s, and shows how they were linked to the recent developments of prebiotic chemistry and molecular biology.
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This paper argues that Haldane’s The causes of evolution was the most important founding document in the emergence of the received view of evolutionary theory which is typically referred to as the Modern Synthesis. Whether or not this historical development is characterized as a synthesis (which remains controversial), this paper argues the most important component of theemergence of the received view consisted of showing how the formal rules of Mendelian inheritance are based on (or emerge from) the material basis of heredity established by classical genetics primarily through the experimental work on Drosophila genetics of the Morgan school in the 1910s and 1920s. This is one of the most important achievements of Haldane’s book. Thus this paper rejectsboth (i) the view that the synthesis was a unification of biometry and Mendelism and (ii) the claim that it arose from work primarily done in the late 1930s and 1940s by naturalists rather than theoretical population and classical experimental geneticists.
pp 765-772 November 2017 HALDANE AT 125
Among many things, J. B. S. Haldane is known for demonstrating how the principle of natural selection can be used to build a mathematical, and in particular quantitative, theory of evolution. However, to the end, he remained open to the idea of other evolutionary mechanisms. In his late writings, he repeatedly drew attention to situations in which natural selection did not operate,was hemmed in by constraints, or worked in a surprising manner. In this respect Haldane stands out among the architects of the Modern Synthesis.
pp 773-782 November 2017 HALDANE AT 125
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In the early 1930s, J. B. S. Haldane and C. H. Waddington collaborated on the consequences of genetic linkage and inbreeding. One elegant mathematical genetics problem solved by them concerns recombinant inbred lines (RILs) produced via repeated self or brother–sister mating. In this classic contribution, Haldane and Waddington derived an analytical formula for the probabilities of 2-locus and 3-locus RIL genotypes. Specifically, the Haldane–Waddington formula gives the recombination rate R in such lines as a simple function of the per generation recombination rate r. Interestingly, for more than 80 years, an extension of this result to four or more loci remained elusive. In 2015, we generalized the Haldane–Waddington self-mating result to any numberof loci. Our solution used self-consistent equations of the multi-locus probabilities ‘for an infinite number of generations’ and solved these by simple algebraic operations. In practice, our approach provides a quantum leap in the systems that can be handled: the cases of up to six loci can be solved by hand while a computer program implementing our mathematical formalism tackles up to 20 locion standard desktop computers.
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Right from the beginning, genetics has been an international venture, with international networks involving the collaboration of scientists across continents. Janaki Ammal’s career illustrates this. This paper traces her scientific path by situating it in the context of her relationships with J. B. S. Haldane and C. D. Darlington.
pp 837-844 November 2017 HALDANE AT 125
pp 845-852 November 2017 HALDANE AT 125
In 1957, John Burdon Sanderson (JBS) Haldane (1892–1964), the world’s leading population geneticist, committed political radical and one of the three ‘founders’ of neo-Darwinian ‘Modern Synthesis’ of twentieth century biology (Sarkar 1995; Haldane 1932; Cain 2009; Smocovitis 1996), ostentatiously renounced both his British citizenship and his prestigious chair at University College London. In a decisively and very public anti-imperial gesture, ostensibly played out as a reaction to the Suez crisis (although his discontent was simmering for quite some time), Haldane, and his partner, geneticist Helen Spurway (1917–1977), turned their backs on Britain and set off to India to offer their considerable scientific prestige, their inexhaustible organisational abilities,along with their leading Journal of Genetics, behind the efforts to build a ‘modern’, democratic India emerging out of the ashes of colonial rule. Haldane’s support of independent India was a major triumph for the new state, itself in the midst of negotiating a fine balance between rapid modernization through science and technology and an postcolonial respect for traditional ‘non-Western’values. Although his time in India was short, Haldane’s few years in India were marked by a frenzied engagement with the new India, its science, its government and its culture (Rao 2013).
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This is a brief sketch of the history of Journal of Genetics from its beginning in 1909 to the taking over of its publication by the Indian Academy of Sciences in 1985. The account is centred on J. B. S. Haldane’s involvement with it over many years, especially as Editor, initially in the UK and later in India.
Volume 99, 2020
Continuous Article Publishing mode
Click here for Editorial Note on CAP Mode