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Sir Andrew Huxley (1917-2012)

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I read that Sir Andrew Huxley passed away a couple of days ago. He shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1963 with Sir Alan Hodgkin and Sir John Eccles for their researches on nerve and muscle fibres.

Why has the Huxley family produced some oustanding figures in the last 150 years? Go back to the great Victorian biologist Thomas Huxley, you have the novelist Aldous Huxley of Brave New World fame, Sir Julian Huxley, a noted biologist and his two sons have done notable work, Sir Andrew Huxley and his father was a noted biographer Leonard Huxley.

A remarkabe family.

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I read that Sir Andrew Huxley passed away a couple of days ago. He shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1963 with Sir Alan Hodgkin and Sir John Eccles for their researches on nerve and muscle fibres.

Why has the Huxley family produced some oustanding figures in the last 150 years? Go back to the great Victorian biologist Thomas Huxley, you have the novelist Aldous Huxley of Brave New World fame, Sir Julian Huxley, a noted biologist and his two sons have done notable work, Sir Andrew Huxley and his father was a noted biographer Leonard Huxley.

A remarkabe family.

Indeed. The answer is of course genetics. I'm afraid I'm not an expert on the family so can't add much of use. I do know a bit about Julian as he was involved with the eugenic movement.

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I remember when reading Darwin that Thomas was his bulldog and the famous debate with Wilberforce.

Famously, Huxley responded to Wilberforce in the debate at the British Association meeting, on Saturday 30 June 1860 at the Oxford University Museum. Huxley's presence there had been encouraged on the previous evening when he met Robert Chambers, the Scottish publisher and author of "Vestiges", who was walking the streets of Oxford in a dispirited state, and begged for assistance. The debate followed the presentation of a paper by John William Draper, and was chaired by Darwins's former botany tutor John Stevens Henslow. Darwin's theory was opposed by the Lord Bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce, and those supporting Darwin included Huxley and their mutual friends Hooker and Lubbock. The platform featured Brodie and Professor Beale, and Robert FitzRoy, who had been captain of HMS Beagle during Darwin's voyage, spoke against Darwin.

Wilberforce had a track record against evolution as far back as the previous Oxford B.A. meeting in 1847 when he attacked Chambers' Vestiges. For the more challenging task of opposing the Origin, and the implication that man descended from apes, he had been assiduously coached by Richard Owen – Owen stayed with him the night before the debate. On the day Wilberforce repeated some of the arguments from his Quarterly Review article (written but not yet published), then ventured onto slippery ground. His famous jibe at Huxley (as to whether Huxley was descended from an ape on his mother's side or his father's side) was probably unplanned, and certainly unwise. Huxley's reply to the effect that he would rather be descended from an ape than a man who misused his great talents to suppress debate—the exact wording is not certain—was widely recounted in pamphlets and a spoof play.

http://en.wikipedia....win.27s_bulldog

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