Larry Moran muses on the recent death of Horace Judson, author of The Eighth Day of Creation: Makers of the Revolution in Biology. This excellent history is rarely picked up by students anymore (and I will note, it’s not available on Kindle), and Moran ties it to a broader theme: new molecular work in eukaryotes that ignores the long literature of work in bacteria:
How does this happen? I think it's because modern researchers are completely unaware of the history of their field. That's partly because the work on bacteria and bacteriophagewhere the basic concepts were often discoveredis no longer taught in biochemistry and molecular biology courses. This leads to the false idea, as expressed in the press release, that all new discoveries in eukaryotes are truly new concepts that nobody ever thought of before.
I suppose we could rephrase Santayana: Those who ignore history feel privileged to reinvent it.