The Political Scientist Essay Research Paper The — страница 5

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science, the tiny transparent worm, c.elegans, which only has 300 neurones and no brain, the link between genes and behaviour is still not properly understood. However, in human brains, with more neurones than there are stars in the universe, and a genome much less well understood than the worm’s, our understanding of the link is much poorer. Logically there must be one. But if you want to change or understand behaviour, Rose would say, this is not the place to start. In most cases we don’t even understand why knocking the genes out disrupts the behaviour. He himself says: “I don’t think there are huge conceptual differences between Richard Dawkins and myself; but part of the difference is between someone who has trained as a biochemist and someone such as Richard who

has, for a long time, been more of a theoretician.” Because both sides in these disputes appeal to the authority of science, but are animated by philosophical disagreements, it can be difficult to find what they are arguing about. Through all the controversies Rose remained active in the laboratory to a degree unusual in professors, let alone popularisers of science. But as a populariser of science he stands slightly askew from the mainstream. He shares an agent – the celebrated American John Brockmann – with many of his ideological opponents; he has won the Rhône Poulenc Science prize for his book The Making Of Memory. But he writes about science as if it weren’t a religion. The traditional pop-science book offers answers to clear-cut questions. Rose is enormously clear

at illuminating the problems, but he also suggest that clear-cut problems are unnatural, and the ones we do find in nature are often just too complicated to work with. “Peter Medawar talked about science as being the art of the soluble, and he’s right, which is why I won’t work on consciousness,” says Rose. “The questions that you ask as a scientist are very often shaped by a complex of things. They are very crudely shaped by money – where do you get the grant? – what are the framing questions that seem important in society? Then there’s the internal history of our subject. The other thing that you must not ever forget is the technologies. You couldn’t ask questions about the sub-cellular structure of cells until you had an electron microscope and an

ultra-centrifuge. The boundaries between technology and science are absolutely non-rigid. People like Lewis Wolpert [professor of biology as applied to medicine at University College, London] who absolutely insist that there is science on the one hand and technology on the other just seem to me to be profoundly wrong.” “The truth is that the complexities of real human memory, or real animal memory, are immensely more complicated than these little synapse games we play,” Rose says. “But synapses are what we know how to study.” By these painstaking methods, Rose’s lab has stumbled onto something that might lead to a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. That they are pursuing this line of research, rather than looking at other brain molecules, seems to him a prime example of

the way that scientific knowledge is shaped by social concerns. If you feed chicks antibiotics, which disrupt the formation of the proteins needed to bind synapses together in the patterns that make memory, they become amnesic. They cannot learn because they cannot remember what they’re supposed to have learned. This is similar to the failure of an early Alzheimer’s patient to remember where the car keys are, or where they live. The knowledge just does not get stored in their brain. The necessary connections are not made. Rose’s lab has found a molecule which counteracts these effects, by binding synapses together in the way normally done by the proteins whose manufacture is stopped by antibiotics in chicks and by Alzheimer’s disease in humans. “But we don’t know how

it works,” he says. “That it works is very clear. What we need to understand is the molecular process by which it works and, of course, if it is to be of any therapeutic interest, we need to show that you don’t have to inject it to get it into the brain. You can get it into the animal by other routes. “The hypothetical therapy is that you take a pill every morning which means that you are not going to forget the things you have learnt every day, like where you have left the car keys, or the shopping, because the drug is actually going to ensure that these connections are being made. “It’s complicated,” he says, “but we reckon that if we get the funds we can solve these problems within the next couple of years. That’s why you find me on the verge of an extremely