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Biomed Central launches a multimedia resource of the most significant scientists of the 20th century

BioMed Central is pleased to announce the launch of Science Archive, a new multimedia resource consisting of extensive autobiographical video recordings with some of the most important scientists of the last century. The service is launching with the audiovisual autobiographies of two giants of modern biology, Sydney Brenner and John Maynard Smith with other scientists to be added later in the year.

The videos of these interviews are available from the BioMed Central website ( and can be viewed using QuickTime. The website is launching as a freely accessible site to allow public testing of the service before it becomes a subscription based service.

In the first series of videos, recorded in about 13 hours during the spring of 1994, Sydney Brenner recounts his life story from his modest beginnings, living in his father’s shoe shop in South Africa, to the heights of becoming director of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. Brenner has contributed enormously to the fields of molecular and developmental biology over the past 50 years. Famously, he identified ’messenger RNA’, which is crucial for converting the genetic code of DNA into proteins. Later, shifting direction in his research, he pioneered the use of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism for developmental biology, an animal that is now the focus of work for thousands of researchers across the globe.

In the second series of videos, recorded in about 5 hours during April 1997, John Maynard Smith tells the story of his life, from his childhood interests in natural history through to his involvement with the communist party and his rise to become one of the most respected evolutionary biologists of his time. Maynard Smith is best known for his use of mathematical analyses in biology and in particular for the application of game theory to evolution and animal behavior. Game theory analyzes complex situations in which the best strategy of one player depends on the actions of another. Smith incorporated game theory into the study of how natural selection acts on different kinds of behavior. His use of mathematical ideas in evolutionary biology has been enormously influential and has led to a greater understanding of interactions among living things.

Sydney Brenner told his life story to the eminent biologist and renowned scientific communicator, Lewis Wolpert whilst John Maynard Smith relayed his story to Richard Dawkins, the author of The Selfish Gene.

Over the course of the year, further autobiographical video recordings will be added to Science Archive including the life stories of Edward Teller, Hans Bethe and many other biologists, mathematicians and physicists.

Gordon Fletcher | BioMed Central
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