Browsing by Subject "BRNO"

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  • Poczai, Péter; Santiago-Blay, Jorge; Sekerák, Jiří; T. Szabó, Attila (2021)
    The nineteenth century was a time of great economic, social, and political change. The population of a modernizing Europe began demanding more freedom, which in turn propelled the ongoing discussion on the philosophy of nature. This spurred on Central European sheep breeders to debate the deepest secrets of nature: the transmission of traits from one generation to another. Scholarly questions of heredity were profoundly entwined with philosophy and politics when particular awareness of "the genetic laws of nature" claimed natural equality. The realization that the same rules of inheritance may apply to all living beings frightened both the absolutist political power and the divided society of the day. Many were not prepared to separate religious questions from novel natural phenomena. Open-minded breeders put their knowledge into practice right away to create sheep with better wool traits through inbreeding and artificial selection. This was viewed, however, as the artificial modification of nature operating against the cultural and religious norms of the day. Liberal attempts caught the attention of the secret police and, consequently, the aspirations of scholars were suppressed by political will during approximately 1820-1850.
  • Poczai, Péter; Santiago-Blay, Jorge (2021)
    The knowledge of the history of a subject stimulates understanding. As we study how other people have made scientific breakthroughs, we develop the breadth of imagination that would inspire us to make new discoveries of our own. This perspective certainly applies to the teaching of genetics as hallmarked by the pea experiments of Mendel. Common questions students have in reading Mendel's paper for the first time is how it compares to other botanical, agricultural, and biological texts from the early and mid-nineteenth centuries; and, more precisely, how Mendel's approach to, and terminology for debating, topics of heredity compare to those of his contemporaries? Unfortunately, textbooks are often unavailing in answering such questions. It is very common to find an introduction about heredity in genetic textbooks covering Mendel without mentions of preceding breeding experiments carried out in his alma mater. This does not help students to understand how Mendel came to ask the questions he did, why he did, or why he planned his pea studies the way he did. Furthermore, the standard textbook "sketch" of genetics does not allow students to consider how discoveries could have been framed and inspired so differently in various parts of the world within a single historical time. In our review we provide an extended overview bridging this gap by showing how different streams of ideas lead to the eventual foundation of particulate inheritance as a scientific discipline. We close our narrative with investigations on the origins of animal and plant breeding in Central Europe prior to Mendel in Koszeg and Brno, where vigorous debates touched on basic issues of heredity from the early eighteenth-century eventually reaching a pinnacle coining the basic questions: What is inherited and how is it passed on from one generation to another?