|Professor Lord Robert Winston, leading scientist and TV presenter.|
A household name thanks to popular TV series that include The Human Body, which one three baftas, Superhuman, Walking with Cavemen, and The Human Mind, Lord Winston's personal charisma and zest for adventure have seen him riding rollercoasters and freezing in an igloo to help demonstrate science in action.
His pioneering work in the field of human fertility helped thousands of childless couples have "miracle babies" and earned him an outstanding international reputation.
A winner of the Royal Society's prestigious Michael Faraday Gold Award, he was made a life peer in 1995. He is Consultant in Reproductive Medicine at Hammersmith Hospital and Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College, London.
In his first DK book for adults, Human (DK, October 2004), Robert reveals the diversity of our lives and explores our extraordinary past, our fascinating present, and our astonishing future.In his first book published for children, What Makes Me Me? (DK, July 2004) Robert explores how genes, experience and biology work together to make everybody unique and in 2005 it won the Aventis Junior Prize for Science.
Body (DK, October 2005), Robert's second children's book is an irresistibly grisly, top-to-toe atlas that takes you on a thrilling journey of the human body. Revealing our internal structure from head to toe, layer-by-layer, system-by-system - it offer just the sort of gruesome stuff kids won't be able to resist!Is there a lot we still don't know about the human body?
Yes, indeed. We probably only know about half there is to know. Some of the most important unsolved questions are about how our brain works. Many of the biggest mysteries are concerned with learning exactly how the brain makes us think, remember, and feel. More research is now being done and science has some powerful tools for helping our understanding – like big brain scanning machines and ways of recording the electrical impulses and chemical messages inside the brain. Do you think we will ever be able to clone humans?
I am sure it would be possible – though probably rather pointless. And at the moment quite dangerous as nearly all the animals that have been cloned have turned out to be abnormal or ill in various ways. It would be surely unthinkable to risk producing an abnormal or damaged human just because we wanted to clone somebody. What do you think is in you that makes you a top scientist instead of a trapeze artist?
Both professions need special skills. To be a trapeze artist you need a very co-ordinated body. Perhaps to be a scientist you need a fairly co-ordinated mind. But to be good at most things you need to work hard and practise. What advice would you give to budding scientists?
Like all jobs it may be exciting some of the time – and science can be very exciting – but there are moments when continuous effort is needed and there are moments of boredom. The best advice is to be single-minded, read as much as possible, listen to other good scientists, and get a wide education. And remember that when an experiment seems to go wrong or gives an unexpected result, this may give very important clues to what’s going on. And remember – when doing any science always keep a really careful record of what you saw and what you did. Memory is never enough. Most discoveries have needed accurate record keeping. What's the most dangerous substance in the body?
Possibly – and surprisingly – oxygen in a way. Oxygen is essential for life and how we create energy inside our body, but oxygen also leads to ageing and changes in cells such as the formation of cancer. In your TV shows you spend a lot of time watching people. Do you ever get bored?
Yes I do – actually I hate filming, though like preparing the programmes. Filming is essentially tedious and time-consuming and you spend an immense amount of time standing around. But I don’t mind watching people; it’s more the actual process of filming I don’t find very exciting.