The Making of a Scientist Explanation, Line by Line, Meaning of Difficult Words, English CBSE Class 10 NCERT Footprints without Feet Chapter 6
THE MAKING OF A SCIENTIST
Author – Robert W Peterson
Richard Ebright’s age was 22 when he surprised the world of science with a new theory of how cells work. Richard had earlier won the award of ‘scout of the year’. His room-mate in his college was his colleague in the research. They had explained the theory in an article published in a magazine ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.’
For the first time this important journal of science had published an article written by college students.
In the sport of baseball, it is equal to a player of 15, playing for the first time in a big tournament and scoring a home run in the first attempt. [Author wants to say that it was a very big achievement for a young person still studying in college]
|long string of achievements||So many achievements|
This was the first achievement in the long series of achievements of Richard Ebright in the field of science and other fields. His achievements started with study of butterflies.
|Grew up||Became adult from a child|
Richard Ebright was the only child of his parents. He grew up in a town which was north side of another town called Reading. It is in the state of Pennsylvania of USA. There were not many activities there. He could not play football or baseball. But he started collected several things.
So he collected things. He always collected things. He started collecting butterflies when he was studying in kindergarten. He had a good determination for it similar to any other activity he did. [Meaning that he did his every work with determination.]
|Fossils||Remains of old plant and animals|
|Astronomer||Who studies sun, moon, stars etc.|
He also collected stones, fossils and coins. He became interested in study of Sun, Moon, stars and planets. Sometimes he used to keep looking at stars throughout the night,
|Driving curiosity||Great curiosity|
Form the beginning he had a bright mind and was very curious to learn. His mother encouraged him to learn more and more.
Ebright visited many places with her mother. She bought telescope, microscope, camera and other things for him. These helped him to learn in many different ways.
|Companion||Colleague, Friend, Associate|
His mother told that she was his only colleague till he started going to school. After he started going to school I used to invite his friends to our home. But during the night we played and read together. Father of Richard died when Richie was studying in class three. Then Richie became my complete life.
She (mother of Richie) and Richie were together at the dining table every evening. If he did not have anything to do, I gave him some work. It was not a physical work but it was something new to learn. He wanted to learn a lot so he liked it.
And he really learned. He was a topper in his class. His mother told that his daily routine was same that of any other kid.
By the time Ebright reached in second standard, he had already collected all the twenty five types of butterflies found around his hometown. (Please see the table in the text book for types of butterflies)
Ebright said that probably I would have stopped my butterfly collecting hobby after that. But my mother gave a children’s book. Name of that book was ‘The travels of Monarch X’.
|Migrate||Move to another region|
|Collector||One who collects|
The book narrated how monarch butterflies move from other regions to Central America. This narration opened a new world of science to the enthusiastic young collector.
In the last pages of the book, the readers were requested to help in the study of migration of butterflies. Readers were requested to put a small mark on each butterfly. A scientist Dr. Frederick A. Urquhart was doing research on migration of butterflies. He was working at University of Toronto in Canada.
Ebright’s mother wrote a letter to Dr. Urquhart. Soon the tags arrived. Ebright used to fix a small sticky label on the wings of monarchs. Anyone who found the butterfly with a tag was requested to send the tag to Dr. Urquhart.
The butterfly collecting season around the town of Reading was for six weeks during later part of summer season. If someone tried to catch butterflies by running after them, one would not catch a large number of butterflies.
|Raise||Nurture, Rear, Breed|
So in the next step Ebright reared and nurtured a group of butterflies. He used to catch a female monarch butterfly to breed it at his basement. It will lay eggs. Then caterpillars will come out of eggs. They will become pupa. Then pupa will become an adult butter fly.
Then he used to put a label on wings of butterflies and allow them to fly. For many years, thousands of monarchs in various stages of development used to live in his basement.
Ebright said that finally he started losing his interest in tagging of butterflies. It was a tiring work and he did not get much response to his work. He laughed and told that from his work of tagging, only two butterflies were again caught. These were caught at distance less than 75 miles from his place.
|County fair||State level fair|
When he was in seventh standard, he participated in a state level science fair. He did not win any prize. There he got an indication about the real science. Ebright said that he felt very bad to sit in the fair and not get any prize while all others had got some prize.
His model in the science fair was slides of frog tissue. He showed this to visitors through a microscope. He understood that winners had tried to do some experiments. They did not make a presentation of something good.
By this time Richard Ebright had started having a feeling of competition. I understood that in the next year competition I would have to show a real experiment. My knowledge was most about the insect work. I had been doing work on butterflies since past many years.
So Ebright wrote a letter to Dr. Urquhart for ideas for doing experiments. He gave many suggestions to Ebright for experiments. These ideas kept him busy up to his high school. He won prizes at state level and at international science fairs.
When Elbright was in eighth standard he did a project to find the cause of a viral disease. This particular disease used to kill caterpillars of monarch after every few years. He tried to find reason of this disease.
|Beetles||A type of insect|
Ebright thought that the disease might be because of presence of beetles. He started rearing caterpillars and beetles together. He said that he did not get result. But I conducted the experiment and showed that I had tried to do an experiment. So this time I won a prize.
During next year his project for the science fair was about testing a theory. The theory was about why viceroy type of butterfly copy monarch type of butterflies. He assumed that viceroy try to copy monarch because birds do not eat monarch type of butterflies.
|On the other hand||Opposite to this|
Opposite to this, birds like to eat viceroy type of butterfly. So if viceroys look like monarch type of butterfly, there is less probability of a bird eating them.
|Starling||Type of a bird|
The project of Ebright was to check if birds actually eat monarch. He found that starling does not eat what other birds eat. A starling likes to eat monarch butterflies. Starling would eat every monarch it sees.
The project of Ebright was first in zoology section and overall third in the state level science fair. (Afterwards some other people had done research and found that probably viceroys did not copy monarch).
|9th Standard||High School Freshman (First year)|
|10th Standard||High School Sophomore (Second year)|
|11th Standard||High School Junior (Third year)|
|12th Standard||High School Senior (Fourth year)|
In the second year of his high school, Elbright started a research and discovered a new hormone of insect. Indirectly, because of this discovery, a new theory of life of cells was made.
Ebright had tried to find an answer to a simple question – what is the purpose of twelve golden colour spots on the wings of a monarch pupa. Everybody thought that these are for decoration. But Dr. Urquhart did not believe this assumption.
To know the answer, Ebright and one other excellent science students made a device. This device showed that the spots produced a type of hormone. This hormone was required for full development of a butterfly.
This project won first prize at the state level competition. It was also sent to compete at the International Science and Engineering Fair. There the project won third prize in the zoology section.
|Entomology||Study of insects|
He got an opportunity to work during summer in the entomology department of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
In the third year of his high school (in 11th standard) Richard Ebright continued his experiments on pupa of monarch butterfly. That year the project won first prize at International Science fair. This gave him one more chance to work at the army laboratory during summer.
During his 12th standard he did a higher level of experiment. He grew cells from wings of a monarch through culture. [Artificial development] He proved that the cells would divide to develop into an adult fully developed butterfly. This will happen only if cells received hormone from the gold coloured spots.
This project won the first prize at the International fair. During summer after graduation (completing 12th standard), he did more research at the army laboratory and at the laboratory of US Department of Agriculture.
Next summer, after his first year at the Harvard University, Ebright again went to the laboratory of Department of Agriculture. He did more research on hormones from the golden spots.
He used advanced instruments of laboratory to identify chemical structure of hormone. After one and half years, during second year at the Harvard University he got the idea of his new theory about life of a cell.
|Eureka||A happy shout on achieving something|
|Eureka||I found it|
This idea came to him when he was observing the X-ray photo of the chemical structure of hormone. After seeing photos he did not shout ‘eureka’ or ‘I have got it’. He remained calm.
But he believed that his finding about insect hormones and the X-ray has answered a great buzzle of biology. The puzzle was how behaviour and properties of a cell is affected by pattern of DNA.
|Heredity||Related to genetics|
DNA is a part of the nucleus (central portion) of a cell. It controls heredity. It governs function of the cell. Hence DNA decides the pattern and behaviour for any living being.
|Paper||A detailed report|
Ebright and his college room- mate James R Wong worked throughout the night. They drew sketches and made plastic models of molecules to explain the method of cell getting affected by DNA. Then they both wrote the report to explain the theory.
Richard Ebright graduated from Harvard University with very high rank. He got second rank among 1510 students. Nobody was surprised by his rank.
After that, Ebright became a student of Ph D (graduate student researcher) in Harvard Medical College. There he started doing experiments to test his theory.
If the theory is proved correct, it will take us closer in understanding the process of life. It may give us new ideas about preventing some types of cancer and other diseases.
This all has become possible because of keen interest of Ebright towards science. His high school research about the purpose of spots on pupa of monarch guided him to his theory about life of a cell.
Richard Ebright became interested in science when he started collecting butterflies. But he had time to pursue his other interests also.
|Public speaking||Giving speech in public|
Ebright took part in debates. He was a very good debater and good at public speaking. He was good at boating. He was good at outdoor activities. He was an expert photographer of nature and scientific exhibitions.
|Straight A student||Excellent student, Topper|
|Model United Nations Club||An activity in which student play role of UN delegates|
In high school he was an excellent student. He was able to learn very easily. So he diverted lots of energy towards debating and Model United Nations clubs.
He admired Richard A Weiherer. Mr Weiherer was his social studies teacher and advisor to both the clubs. (Debate and MUN club). Ebright had said that Mr Weiherer was a perfect person, he opened my mind to new ideas.
Mr Weiherer said that Ebright always used to make extra efforts. Mr Weiherer appreciated that Ebright used to do research for his debate in the night for three or four hours. This was in addition to his research for butterflies and other areas of interest.
Mr Weihere further said that Richard was competitive in a good sense. Richard was not interested in winning for the sake of winning or for getting a prize. He was winning because he was always doing the best work. He wanted to be the best for right reason – by learning more.
|First rate||Excellent, Brilliant|
And this is one of the qualities that makes a person a scientist. One should have a brilliant mind, keen interest to learn and the desire to win for the right reason.
Ebright has all these qualities. Reading the book, The Travels of Monarch X, opened the world of science to him. Since that time Richard has maintained his keen interest in science.