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Letter from Peter Medawar to Joshua Lederberg

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MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL Telegrams: ’ NATINMED, MILL. LONDON.’ Telephone: MILL HILL 3666 NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR MEDICAL. RESEARCH, THE RIDGEWAY, MILL HILL, LONDON, N.W.7. PRIW COUNCIL 26th October, 1960. Professor J. Lederberg, Dept. of Genetics, Stanford University, Gtanford, California. Dear Josh, Thank you for your two letters of 3rd and 10th October. I am keeping the typescript of the periodate paper as you suggest and have only a few coanments (see the end). The other points. 1. Yes, the symposium on space travel is to be published as a small book by the Institute of Biology, late this year. If I get any reprints I will send you one. An examination of some soils from roots of old herbarium plants (Kew Herbarium) gathered before 1863, shows much highers counts of sporing bacilli than controls (like the paper, the flowers, etc) and I hope to write this up briefly somewhere. The "half life" of these soil bacteria seems around 20 years under such conditions. Identification of them is proving troublesome. 2. This puts a slightly new lip&t on the plan of Paul. Ehrlich and myself to look at the grasshopper glacier, since we would like them to be several centuries old, and the evidence (such as it is) is that they are very recent. Still, I will re-draft an estimate, and seek permission tim the M.R.C. forslch a project. 3. I have cited your pa?er as you suggest, omitting the Nice Confel.ence volume. 4. Yes, not much more can be done without a male-substance assay, it seems. 5. As to the Mohole project, I will be glad to help if I can. It may prove very interesting. 6. As far as I know, there were no experiments to show that addition of periodate after pairing did not reduce the exuected recombinant count. That a number of matings did continue was shown in experiolents SN 7,12, 66 but rqy data give little clue as to the significance (since the non-periodated controls /cont.. . . - 2 - were allowed to continue m

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