Nobel Scientist Was Dissed By His Schoolmaster

Robert Siegel and Audie Cornish have more on John B. Gurdon, a co-winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. When Gurdon was 15, he was dissed by his schoolmaster who said a career in science would be "completely ridiculous" for the Nobel winner.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Of course, Nobel Prize winners get about $1.2 million and the winners of the physics Nobel will split that. At a news conference today in Boulder, Colorado, Dave Wineland said he has no idea what he will do with the money. As Boulder's Daily Camera newspaper reported, his colleague, also a Nobel laureate, suggested that Wineland might upgrade his wardrobe. Wineland was wearing a fleece jacket and a polo shirt.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And here's a little coda to yesterday's announcement of the winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Two scientists won the award for their research in cell development. And yesterday, one of them, John Gurdon of Britain, shared a story from his teens.

SIEGEL: His work has been far from satisfactory. That was the schoolmaster's review at Eton after his first term of biology, as Gurdon explained at a news conference.

JOHN GURDON: The main gist of it was that he had heard that Gurdon was interested in doing science and that this was a completely ridiculous idea, because there was no hope whatever of my doing science. And any time spent on it would be a total waste of time, both on my part and the part of the person having to teach him.

SIEGEL: That same schoolmaster wrote: Several times he has been in trouble because he will not listen, but will insist on doing his work in his own way.

CORNISH: And so it seems, luckily, John Gurdon did not listen and did his work in his own way - well enough, to win the Nobel Prize.

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