Thursday, September 25, 2008


Tonight I went to a talk about Rita Levi-Montalcini, one of my personal heroins. You may already know that she won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1986 (the year of my birth amongst other more exciting things for you). This prize from the peace loving dynamite inventor was in honour of her work in identifying Nerve Growth Factor, a protein that makes neurones do pretty and perculiar things like stretching out and talk to other neurones. She did this as an Italian Jew in the middle of the second world war witb the use of a laboratory in her bedroom consisting of a microscope and a few chicken eggs (which after using in experiments she cooked and ate). When moving to work in America she included in her hand luggage two chick embryos with transplanted tumours to begin work on (certainly beating my current record of a swiss army knife, a soft-toy rat and plenty of literature). She was, in short, a bit alternative in her technique, and a complete inspiration to me. If anything she has taught me to do whatever you think is important, no matter what people think, even if your father is raving victorian luddite. The talk was followed by some Italian snacks and wine, but being on my own I felt somewhat awqward and hence soon left. Walking past plenty of lairy medical students in pyjamas i kept my eyes down, which meant they easily passed over the chap sitting in the entrance of Manchester Museum. I don't know if he asked for change because I had already told him I didn't have any and apologised. At this point it struck me that I had just left a table full of biscuits, crackers and grapes that he probably wouldn't mind. I didn't really want to go back because I would look odd coming from outside and I would have to wrap things up and I was already on my own and so felt naturally displaced. I went back. I went back because Rita Levi-Montalcini did what she thought was important. After a few inquisitive looks and some half-decent wrapping I headed off with a small package that I quickly passed on with a brief explanation and a smile. It felt great! All I had to do now was to get passed the pyjamas without anyone noticing.

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