The Charleston Meeting: I had resolved not to go to the genetics convention in Berlin, but there was a meeting of the Southeastern Regional Genetics Group in the Low Country of South Carolina, which did not seem so far, and with a heavy heart and doom ridden mind I donned the knee pads and crawled thither.  I wanted to accomplish four things.  As Alice was told, “Nobody goes anywhere without a porpoise.” 

I would see what I could learn.  I would post an entry on this web site.  I would recover what I had already been able to demonstrate about hybrid breakdown.  And maybe I could chat with some folks.

I had already concluded that in the United States, genetics is divided between the NIH in Maryland and everybody else.  The NIH spends money.  So far as I can tell, that about sums it up.  As for everybody else, I did learn something.  First, there are very few geneticists, maybe a dozen in a typical state, and half of them are totally engrossed in clinical work.  They are trying to take the small and baffling dab of ointment that is clinically applicable genetics and apply it as effectively as possible to the great sore which is human misery.  It would be hard to ask them to do more.  Of the basic researchers, they are a thin line of heroes and heroines indeed.  It would be unrealistic to expect them to approach any particular target in their target rich environment.  (That is military euphemism for being pinned down by a sleet of superior fire power.)  I learned more, but that was the relevant impression.

I tried for several hours to get the posting done.  I failed.  I tried to work out hybrid breakdown.  The computer threw me down and stomped my head with spiked boots for many hours, and all I gathered was that I was once again lost in a seventeen dimensional space, and wherever the treasure was, it wasn’t where I was.

But on the fourth and least promising front, it was thrilling.  I am so used to watching eyes glaze over when I try to explain something or have the subject changed when I begin to get to the point that I rather expect it.  But there must have been a half dozen fully competent experts who listened with bright eyes and tact and promised to think about it further.  That is more real contact than I have had in the last ten years. 

I return delighted and with high hopes. 

But if you are waiting to meet a professional geneticist before you talk to anybody about all this, you may wait a long time.  There are not that many out there.

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