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Gregor Mendel celebrated in peas-full Google Doodle

July 20, 2011 | 11:13 am


Don't be deceived by the peas. Today's Google Doodle is not a nod to the summer harvest, rather it honors Gregor Mendel, the Austrian friar and scientist who is known as the father of genetics.

Mendel, whose work was not truly appreciated until after his death, would have turned 189 today.

"We celebrate Gregor Mendel, Austrian botanist & father of genetics, born July 20, 1822. Peas enjoy!" Google tweeted this morning.

So why the peas? Because, as you may remember from a high school science class, it was Mendel's experiments with the hybridization of thousands of pea plants that lead him to discern patterns in the way traits were passed from generation to generation. He called these individual traits "elements." Today, we call them "genes." Mendel was the first to record how genes function -- that they are received from each parent, that they are sometimes concealed but not lost, and that each "unit" is passed independently from other "units."

He presented his findings in 1865 in a lecture series called  "Experiments in Plant Hybrids." As the Mendel Museum writes on its website, "the concepts he established in 1865 came to be known universally as Mendel's laws of heredity, and the man himself came to be regarded as the 'father of genetics' ".

He did all this while becoming the abbot of an Austrian monastery. Who says science and religion can't go hand in hand?

If you'd like to learn more about this man, check out the online exhibition about Mendel's life and work at the Masaryck University Mendel Museum


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