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Horace Barlow: a conversation

Horace Barlow is the youngest grandchild of Sir Horace Darwin, Charles Darwin’s youngest surviving child. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a distinguished member of the lineage of Cambridge neurobiologists that included E D Adrian, Alan Hodgkin, W A H Rushton, Colin Blakemore and many others. I have admired Barlow all my professional life, ever since reading his remarkable papers from the late fifties and early sixties on redundancy reduction in neural processing. I was delighted to meet him when he came as a visiting professor to Berkeley during my two years there. I attended his course of lectures on sensory physiology, which were remarkable for his habit of forgetting to turn up until the lecture hour was almost over, and the audience held informal discussions while we waited. Barlow's lectures were worth the wait. He is now ninety years old and very active in science back in Cambridge.

Two years ago, during the Darwin Centenary year, he gave the Francis Crick Nobel Lecture at the Salk Institute in La Jolla. Before the lecture, he was interviewed by Roger Bingham. I have just listened to the interview, which was wide ranging and fascinating. It's quite long, but well worth listening to if you have some time to spare: the thoughtful musings of a humane,cultivated and highly intelligent elder statesman of science, with a distinguished pedigree, both genetic and memetic.




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