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L.L. Larison Cudmore

  • We are a sad lot, the cell biologists; like the furtive collectors of stolen art, we are forced to be lonely admirers of spectacular architecture, exquisite symmetry, dramas of violence and death, nobility, self-sacrifice and, yes, rococo sex.

  • All cell biologists are condemned to suffer from an incurable secret sorrow: the size of the objects of their passion. Almost anyone with an obsession can share it with someone else. ... But those of us enamored of the cell must resign ourselves to the perverse, lonely fascination of a human being for things invisible to the naked human eye.

  • Ah, the architecture of this world. Amoebas may not have backbones, brains, automobiles, plastic, television, Valium or any other of the blessings of a technologically advanced civilization; but their architecture is two billion years ahead of its time. The amoeba had the architectural ideas of R. Buckminster Fuller before there was anyone around capable of having an idea.

  • ... sex is important. Aside from its recreational and entertainment possibilities, it has considerable biological significance. The biological significance was there first; the entertainment value came only recently.

  • Sex is really just a three-letter word for the exchange of genetic material.

  • A single cell can have everything except fire, and intellectually I like that thought a lot. Emotionally, I feel that cells have done too much. They seem to have accomplished everything we pride ourselves on, but they did it two billion years ago. Granted, their pexicysts are not exactly SAMs or ICBMs, but they're not bad at all for something without a brain and without hands, and they do what is needed without contaminating the environment.

  • Almost anyone can do science; almost no one can do good science.

  • ... good science is almost always so very simple. After it has been done by someone else, of course.

  • ... nothing is impossible, we just don't know how to do it yet.

  • The evolution of cell societies parallels that of human societies: there has been a constant movement toward specialization of the members of the society.

  • Our major sources of information more and more do not just present facts; they present ready-made conclusions and opinions for us to adopt in toto.

L.L. Larison Cudmore, U.S. cell biologist

(c. 1950)

Full name: Lorraine Lee Larison Cudmore. This is one of my favorite books and never mind that you didn’t think you were interested in cell biology.