Russian Journal of Genetics, Vol. 39, No. 1, 2003, p. 95. Translated from Genetika, Vol. 39, No. 1, 2003, pp. 111–112. Original Russian Text Copyright © 2003 by Mitrofanov. BOOK REVIEWS Nikolai Vladimirovich Timofeeff-Ressovsky V.V. Babkov and E.S. Sakanyan, ser. Pamyatniki istoricheskoi mysli (A Collection of Historic Ideas), Sokolov, B.S., Ed., Moscow, 2002 The life and activity of Nikolai Vladimirovich to provide a basis for selection. Based on numerous Timofeeff-Ressovsky, one of the most renowned scien- observations in natural populations, Timofeeff-Ress- tists of the 20th century, have been the focus of numer- ovsky demonstrated that intrapopulation variation may ous publications and ﬁlms. Notwithstanding, his life give origin to intraspeciﬁc one. He elaborated the main attracts our attention again and again. In Russia, Timo- concepts of microevolution (and was the ﬁrst to intro- feeff-Ressovsky did not have high personal titles. All duce this term), considering speciation as a major result his titles and prizes were received beyond Russia. Yet of microevolutionary processes. Timofeeff-Ressovsky substantially contributed to the Working in the Urals from 1947 to 1964, Timofeeff- current knowledge of various ﬁelds of biology and bio- Ressovsky founded a new branch of radiation biology, physics. His charisma was due to his high scientiﬁc radiation biocenology, which only now is beginning to potential, which allowed Timofeeff-Resovsky to pre- develop fully. Many people have forgotten that it was serve himself as a person and as a researcher and to Timofeeff-Ressovsky who laid the theoretical ground- overcome all ordeals of his unusual fate. work for its development. In their book, Babkov and Sakanyan introduce the The second part of the book describes meetings and reader to the facts of Timofeeff-Ressovsky’s life that were thus far unknown to the general public. conservations with Timofeeff-Ressovsky and presents recollections of his friends, his enemies, and prejudiced The ﬁrst part considers the complete family tree of people who hold to commonly accepted views about Timofeeff-Ressovsky, as well as the scientiﬁc views of him. It was far from easy to rehabilitate Timofeeff- his teachers, N.K. Kol’tsov and S.S. Chetverikov. The Ressovsky and to clear him from unjustiﬁed, libelous development of Timofeeff-Ressovsky as a researcher is accusation of collaboration with enemies. Renowned described. In this connection, it is interesting to look at scientists and politicians of the Soviet Union and other the experimental basis used by Timofeeff-Ressovsky to countries came out to defend Timofeeff-Ressovsky, and analyze the developmental patterns of gene expression. yet his opponents were also not few. Details of this The chapter Phenomenology of the Realization of struggle are well described in the book. Genes gives an insight into the speciﬁc of genetic anal- ysis as it was carried out in the 1930s, when the genetic Finally, the Supplement contains numerous impor- code was unknown, yet interesting and correct conclu- tant documents, many of those are published for the sions on the character of gene expression were drawn ﬁrst time. We should be grateful to the authors who only from the data of hybrid analysis. Thus, one may painstakingly worked to ﬁnd, to collect, and to organize see how the groundwork for modern phenogenetics these invaluable primary sources of information on the was laid. most important periods of Timofeeff-Ressovsky’s life. It is also possible to follow the difﬁcult ways to the Interrogation protocols are especially impressive, dem- understanding of natural and induced mutagenesis. onstrating Timofeeff-Ressovsky’s truthfulness, dignity, Experiments with irradiation of Drosophila were car- and awareness of his innocence. Probably, if these pro- ried out by numerous researchers. However, only tocols were published at the period of struggle for reha- Muller succeeded in obtaining clear and unquestion- bilitation of Timofeeff-Ressovsky, this alone would able data concerning the effect of ionizing radiation on stop a ridiculous rumor that he worked in collaboration the heredity of organisms (for which he was awarded with the Nazis. the Nobel Prize). The failure of Timofeeff-Ressovsky The book Nikolai Vladimirovich Timofeeff-Ress- and Romashov was most probably caused by the ovsky is certainly a success of Babkov and Sakanyan. It absence of high-quality irradiation equipment and is easy to read and to understand even when complex insufﬁcient experimental material rather than by spe- genetic phenomena are considered. This book is of ciﬁc phenogenetic features of Drosophila funebris or a interest not only for biologists, but also for a wide circle lack of strains with the known genetic origin. of readers who are interested in the development of Timofeeff-Ressovsky’s work on the structure of nat- Russian science. ural populations and genetic analysis of ﬁtness are also of interest, as different forms of variation were shown V. G. Mitrofanov 1022-7954/03/3901-0095$25.00 © 2003 MAIK ÒNauka / Interperiodica”
Russian Journal of Genetics – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 7, 2004
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