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Watching Life in Real Time - A Conversation With Martin Chalfie

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groovedaddy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 11:51 AM
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Watching Life in Real Time - A Conversation With Martin Chalfie
Q. IS IT TRUE YOU SLEPT PAST THE PHONE CALL INFORMING YOU OF THE NOBEL PRIZE?

A. Its true. You know, if youre fortunate enough to do good work, people do this terrible thing to you they start saying, Hey, you might get the Nobel Prize. Then, when the first week in October rolls around, you lose a little sleep.

Last October, I didnt sleep well the night before they announced the medicine prize. But no call came. They announce the chemistry prize two days later. Well, on that night, I heard this phone ringing in the distance but assumed it was a neighbors. So I woke at 10 after 6 the next morning and assumed the chemistry prize had gone to someone else. I then opened my laptop and went to Nobelprize.org to see who the schnook was whod gotten it. And there I saw my name along along with Osamu Shimomuras and Roger Tsiens. I was the schnook! I woke my wife, Tulle: Its happened. She said, What? Have we overslept taking our daughter to school?

Then, the phone really started ringing. It was a reporter from The A.P. who said she was in front of our apartment and wanted to get a picture of me. I said, Im in my pajamas. She said, Thats exactly the photo I want. I said, But youre not going to get it.

Q. YOURE A BIOLOGIST. WERE YOU SURPRISED TO WIN THE CHEMISTRY NOBEL?

A. The prize was really for the molecule. In 1962, Osamu Shimomura discovered a protein in a jellyfish that caused it to glow bright green. With colleagues, 30 years later, I was able to insert this G.F.P. gene into bacteria and make them turn green. Once we did that, it opened up the possibility of using G.F.P. as a kind of natural flashlight inside of animals and plants that allows us to see cells or parts of them. Roger Tsien took it all further by creating an entire palette of colors from G.F.P., which gives us tags that permit us to watch even more processes as they occur. The breakthrough is that we can now watch life in real time.

Q. HOW DID YOU FIRST COME TO STUDY G.F.P.?

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/22/science/22conv.html?t...
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