The Political Scientist Essay Research Paper The — страница 2

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they turned on the blacks.” Politics as an exchange of rocks and slogans was to have a lasting impact on his polemical style. But his scientific memories go deeper: for his eight birthday he had been given a chemistry set and a copy of Darwin’s Origin Of Species. He says: “It just seemed to me a better way of understanding the world than all the other stuff one was being taught. I set up a small chemistry lab in a shed in the back garden. I decided I was an atheist, which I explained to the local rabbi, a friend of the family. He patted me firmly on the head and said ‘There there, Steven, it’s only a phase. You’ll probably grow out of it; and anyway, it doesn’t matter, because you don’t have to believe in God to be a good Jew’, which I didn’t understand at the

time. However, I never have grown out of it. I was always interested in two things: science, and changing the world – in labour politics.” At 18, he went up to Cambridge on a scholarship. It was a revelation for a boy who had never had anyone in the family house who was not Jewish, and probably, he says, who was not a close relative. In fact the whole time seemed revolutionary, for he went up a month before the Suez crisis and was almost at once back in London for the demonstrations against it. “There were police horses riding us down, and people calling out for marbles to throw in front of the police horses and so on. With this in mind, I went back to my father and said, ‘Police horses are riding us down! The government will fall!’ My father looked up from the sofa and

raised half an eyebrow.” The memory still makes Rose laugh. He loved the opportunities for a wider education that Cambridge offered and threw himself into the libraries. He had gone up as a chemist. “I knew no biology. I may have had an O or an A level in it.” But King’s College made chemistry students study physiology as well, and he discovered biochemistry – the chemistry of living things – and was swept up in the excitement of the first great discoveries of molecular biology. Cambridge was where Crick and Watson had worked out the structure of DNA, which won them a shared Nobel prize in 1953; by the end of the decade Frederick Sanger, also at Cambridge, had won the first of his two Nobel prizes for working out the structure of the protein insulin; the South African

Sydney Brenner, who comes up in any discussion of people who really deserved a Nobel but didn’t get one, was also at King’s working on the genetic code: the way the structure of DNA is translated into proteins, from which almost everything in a living body is built. “It was a marvellous time to be a biochemistry undergraduate in Cambridge,” says Rose. “It was certainly the best biochemistry in England, probably in the world. This, I thought, was the key to understanding the universe.” The problem, he thought then, was that so much of the universe had been understood already. He was young, smart, and arrogant: “Steven has the most profoundly superficial mind of anyone I know,” Brenner is supposed to have said. Rose got a double first in biochemistry but he didn’t

want to go on doing molecular biology, as seemed natural to almost every other smart young biologist of the period. “I thought, ‘the genetic code has been solved; protein synthesis has been done. What’s the big next thing to understand? The brain. So where can I go to understand the brain?’” This was not an ambition sympathetically received by his department, who “exiled” him for his PhD to the Institute of Psychiatry in South London. He worked there on the chemistry of the brain in a way that seemed to him quite futile: though he was in a hospital full of human distress they worked on slices of cow’s brains from the local abattoir. “We might as well have been studying big toes or livers or kidneys for all it told me about function,” he says. However, his

personal life took a decisive change in 1960. At a New Left Review meeting he met Hilary who was studying sociology at the LSE as a mature student. The couple were married shortly thereafter, and have stayed married and famously devoted ever since, perhaps a unique record among radicals of their generation. She eventually became professor of sociology at Bradford. They worked together on books and pamphlets, and are at the moment joint Gresham lecturers at the University of London. They have two sons, Simon, from Hilary’s first marriage, who is a farmer in Yorkshire, and Ben, “an extremely successful criminal defence lawyer. If the police nick you, go to Ben,” Rose says. After his doctorate his first job was as a fellow of New College, Oxford, working for Hans Krebs, who