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J.B.S. Haldane and a poem about rectal cancer

March 29, 2009

J.B.S. Haldane and a poem about rectal cancer

J.B.S. Haldane was a famous Brittish scientist, professor in genetics. He was born in 1892 and died in 1964. In 1923 he proposed hydrogen generating windmills as a solution to the energy exhaustion problem. This lecture is surely very acctual in these days, over 80 years later.

There are a great number of quotations based on text by prof Haldane. They can all be found here http://quotationsbook.com/author/3127/
and here are a few of them:

"We do not know, in most cases, how far social failure and success are due to heredity, and how far to environment. But environment is the easier of the two to improve."

"A fairly bright boy is far more intelligent and far better company than the average adult."

"My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose."

His book "DAEDALUS or Science and the Future" published in 1923 was the first book ever dealing with in vitro fertilization and "test tube babes", and this book influenced Aldous Huxley when he wrote "Brave New World".

In the beginning of the sixties J.B.S. Haldane was found to have a rectal cancer, and he the wrote a poem about rectal cancer - the only poem I know about with this subject. The poem start with these sentences. often cited:

Cancerís a Funny Thing:
I wish I had the voice of Homer
To sing of rectal carcinoma,
This kills a lot more chaps, in fact,
Than were bumped off when Troy was sacked

The poem can be found in many places on the net. If You want to read the poem here is one of the best sites:

http://books.google.com/books?id=NGBaPmlspu8C&pg=PA174&dq=I+wish+I+had+the+voice+of+ Homer+to+sing+of+rectal+carcinoma.&as_brr=0&hl=fi#PPA174,M1

J.B.S. Haldane died in December 1964 in India and the cause of death was his rectal cancer.

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