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Mendel’s journey to Paris and London: context and significance for the origin of genetics.

van Dijk, Peter J. and Ellis, T. H. Noel (2020) Mendel’s journey to Paris and London: context and significance for the origin of genetics. [Preprint]

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Abstract

From a letter Gregor Mendel wrote to his brother-in-law, and a photograph of a large group of people in Paris, it is known that Mendel visited the International Exhibition in London in August 1862. There has been speculation about the status and composition of this travel group; for example, whether it was an official delegation from the city of Brünn. There has also been speculation on whether Mendel visited Charles Darwin on that occasion. We have now found a partial list of participants of the second 1862 pleasure train (Vergnügungszug) from Vienna to Paris and London, which includes Mendel’s name. The names of 158 participants make a partial reconstruction of the travel group possible. Digital newspapers were researched to get more insight into the status, residence, and profession of the participants. Most belonged to the upper-class of the Austrian Empire, among them several citizens of Brünn. Such luxurious all-inclusive pleasure trains were a new phenomenon in Vienna at the time and received much attention in the newspapers. Gregor Mendel was one of the first to participate in this expensive new trend. The person next to Mendel in the photograph shows a clear resemblance with Johann Nave in the photograph of the founding members of the Natural Science Society of Brünn the same year (see Figs. 1 and 5). The newspaper lists of arrivals in Viennese hotels shows that Johann Nave, was in Vienna when the pleasure train departed. Johann Nave was an internationally acknowledged algae expert with interest in plant reproductive processes. In 1858 Mendel had nominated Nave as a new member of the scientific section of the Agricultural Society. A scientific connection between Mendel and Nave has been conjectured previously; however, evidence was lacking so far. After his early death in 1864, Nave’s scientific library was acquired by the Natural Science Society. It contained books about the latest insights on plant fertilization, and since Mendel’s 1866-paper contains a lengthy footnote about this topic, Mendel and Nave likely discussed this area of Mendel’s research. This may also have been the case during their journey to Paris and London because it was in 1862 that Mendel conducted the final crossing experiments to test his hypothesis about the composition and the random union of pollen and egg cells.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
van Dijk, Peter J.pvd@keygene.com0000-0001-8592-6782
Ellis, T. H. Noelthnoelellis@gmail.com0000-0001-6726-9950
Keywords: Mendel Genetics Inheritance Heredity Darwin
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Depositing User: Dr. Peter J. van Dijk
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2020 01:18
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2020 01:18
Item ID: 17044
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Date: 19 March 2020
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/17044

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