A tribute to Lawrence R. Blinks: Ions, light, and algae
Nicholson, Nancy .
Remembering Lawrence R. Blinks.
DR. Blinks was a mentor in the widest sense: we benefited by being in his presence. His engagement with colleagues and students created a diffusion of knowledge from a phenomenal concentration in his vicinity to locations where it was readily ad- and absorbed. Those fortunate enough to know him well became a “chromatography” of the information he generated. His methods embodied the unifying sophistication of William Whewell's concept of 'consilience' long before it was 'rediscovered' by E. O. Wilson. Inspired by W. J. Van L. Osterhout, he and his students advanced understanding of molecular oscillators at the membrane level. I remember watching recordings from his performing stable of giant cells: Halicystis, Valonia and Nitella. What captured me were patterns in cellular electrical activity, regardless of ions involved. I was hypnotized by the eerie combination of regularity and unpredictability in the data. And his work on photosystems gave me a professional head start for teaching. Coupled biorhythms are endlessly intriguing, with a fractal dimension of complex behaviors: one never needs want for a topic that makes you try to unscrew the inscrutable. Deliciously, wickedly, gnarly work for the mind... Though not my major professor (Winslow Briggs was the one with that task), he was someone who could help me understand how to manage the intellectual risks of investigating growing edges. Without his example, I probably never would have taken an interest in nonlinear systems (chaotic systems with deterministic and non-deterministic behaviors). Experience in his class as a lab assistant nurtured an important set of concepts for my whole professional career as an interdisciplinary scientist and author. It has enabled me to understand endlessly entertaining relations between process and content. It is Dr. Blinks’ legacy of consilient possibility I would like to pursue in this tribute.
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1 - Miami University, Interdisciplinary Studies, Oxford, Ohio, 45056, USA
Giant Algal Cells
membrane electric potentials
Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Location: 134/Performing Arts Center
Date: Monday, July 31st, 2006
Time: 3:30 PM