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Studying Biochemical Mechanisms out in the Field...

What's been kind of interesting doing this sort of work is to find that there are many things like DNA synthesis which I'm sure many of you cover in your classes. Many people work on DNA synthesis and DNA damage repair, cancer. Half of them are probably in the National Academy and so on. The difference between what they do and what I do is most of them do not then go after nature. I say to them, OK, you know the sequence to all these enzymes and so on, what happens at 10:00 in the morning to a blade of grass? I don't know. What happens, when does this happen, what sort of level? And there is very little of this sort of cross over taking these mechanisms and actually seeing what organisms do with them out in the field. And that's where we're crossing over, to actually look to see what's happening in some of these molecular and biochemical mechanisms actually out in the field.

Now I have it in my head. I do have to tell you one little funny story about getting a radiation permit in Yellowstone. They asked me if C-14 occurs naturally. I put yes, one in how many billion molecules of carbon is C-14, but yes, sure. I knew that they had actually given permission to other people to use C-14 in the park. So, a few weeks later I got a big packet from the National Park Service with my permits and two booklets on how to recognize the difference between grizzly bears and black bears. So you can see where their emphasis is. The radiation was the least of their worries.

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