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Letter from Joshua Lederberg to Bruce Moholt

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  • Biology


October 20, 1966 Mr. Bruce Moholt Department of Microbiology Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana 47401 Dear Mr. Moholt: Your enthusiasm about participating in exobiology research is very engaging, and you should hardly think there is any presumption in writing to me about this. My own views on the subject are perhaps rather pointed, but I do not see any particularly useful relationship between the astronaut program and the inves- tigation of planetary life. I regard it as extrenm+ly unlikely that there will be a manned flight to Mara a8 soon as the next twenty years, not that this is necessarily beyond our technical capability, but there appears to be very limited scientific justification for such a major program. In any case, I do not believe that manned exploration is a particularly effective way of conducting the preliminary search. On the contrary, the best way that I can advise you for participating in this kind of work is to continue with your plan *or advanced training in molecular biology, and you could not readily have made a better choice than to go with Dr. Bertani in Stockholm. There will, it may be hoped, remain plenty of opportunity for the most extensive participation by the most advanced workers in molecular biology via the automated biological laboratory controlled and programmed from the earth. If you have not had the occasion to do it bef'ore, I suggest you familiarize yourself as far as convenient with computer tech- nology. Aleo while you are in Stockholm you might do well to become acquainted with the work Bn instrumentation which is being done by Professor Caspersson and his colleagues at the Institute for Cell Biology there. Sincerely, Joshua Lederberg Professor of Genetics Encl: ADL = Automated Biological Laboratory (JL,AW 11, 1965)

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