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Huxley, an indissoluble bond with life sciences

   Andrew Huxley is a famous physicist and biophysicist. His work with his partner Alan Hodgkin pioneered the study of nerve impulses and laid the foundation for the study of ion channels. In 1963, they won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their research on the action potential of nerves.

  Kandel, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2000, praised the achievement as "contribution to neuronal biology comparable to that of DNA structure to biology".


founder of electrophysiology


  On November 22, 1917, Huxley was born in a famous family in Hampstead, north of London, England. In 1935, Huxley entered Trinity College, Cambridge University to study. While studying physics, he developed an interest in physiology. I found a strong interest, so I took the course of physiology as an elective.

  With the deepening of his studies, he believed that this subject could solve many unresolved and controversial problems at that time, so he studied more and more, and thus met a group of famous physiologists at Cambridge University, including Hill (1922 Nobel Prize in Physiology) or Medicine Prize winner), Adrian (the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1932), and others, as well as his later research friend Hodgkin. Although Hodgkin was only 3 years older than Huxley, he was already well-known in the study of neural action potentials at that time. Therefore, in 1939, Huxley became Hodgkin's assistant and devoted himself to the research of neurophysiology.

  At that time, many scientists had different opinions on how to transmit information between neurons. Some people believed that there was electrical activity in neural activity, but nerve cells were too thin, and the technology at that time could not make qualified electrodes at all. It cannot be confirmed.


British biologist Andrew Huxley.


  To get around technical limitations, Huxley and Hodgkin found the largest nerve in nature—the giant axon of the squid.

  Before them, in 1909, when a zoologist named Williams was dissecting the squid, he accidentally discovered a kind of extremely thick nerve fiber growing under the mantle of the squid, which was much thicker than ordinary nerve cells. It is 50 times thicker and can be seen clearly with the naked eye. He therefore named this newly discovered nerve fiber a giant axon.

  Relying on Williams' discovery, one day in 1939, they inserted a 100-micron glass needle into the giant axon of the squid, and recorded nerve electrical signals for the first time in human history.

  However, this research was unexpectedly interrupted by World War II. They were also recruited by the army for weapons development and assigned to different departments, but they still kept in touch with each other.

  After the victory of World War II, they returned to Cambridge University and continued to cooperate in the research on the mechanism of action potential generation of neurons. However, the post-war reconstruction did not happen overnight. It was not until 1952 that they compiled and published their research results.

  The release of this research result, on the one hand, is of great help to the understanding of the function of the central nervous system; The mechanism of generation of electrical impulses of muscle activity.

  In this way, Andrew Huxley and Alan Hodgkin became the first scientists in history to record the electrical activity of nerves, and they also became the founders of electrophysiology—the Hodgkin-Huxley model they established is still alive today. It is a classic theory of neuroelectrophysiology, and the "ion channel" hypothesis they put forward has also been confirmed by later generations, creating a new field of molecular neuroscience in one fell swoop.

  With the advancement of technology, the 100-micron glass needle used by Hodgkin and Huxley has been made smaller and smaller, and even the tiniest nerve fibers can be detected. This needle is called a "diaphragm". Clamp" has become an indispensable tool for modern neuroelectrophysiological research. And these are inseparable from the contributions of Andrew Huxley and Alan Hodgkin.

  In 1963, Andrew Huxley and Alan Hodgkin shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

The famous Huxley family


  The Huxley family shines in history.

  Andrew Huxley's father, Leonard Huxley, was a well-known author, editor and principal. And his grandfather, Thomas Henry Huxley, is more familiar to Chinese people. He is an outstanding representative of Darwin's theory of evolution. The location of "" Handbook of Invertebrate Anatomy " etc. Among them, his article "Evolution and Ethics" was translated by Yan Fu into "Tianyanlun". Later, under the dissemination of intellectuals such as Kang Youwei, Liang Qichao, Cai Yuanpei, Hu Shi, and Lu Xun, the theory of "natural selection and survival of the fittest" It was widely disseminated in Chinese society, aroused huge repercussions, and had a profound impact.


Another scholar in the Huxley family, Thomas Henry Huxley. His article "Evolution and Ethics" was translated by Yan Fu into "Tianyanlun".



  Thomas Huxley was born as a commoner and became a learned man by self-study. In the course of the next hundred years of development, the Huxley family he founded will become stronger with each generation. Quite accomplished.

  Aldous Huxley, grandson of Thomas Huxley, suffered from severe eye disease, but he wrote Brave New World in Braille, which is one of the most classic dystopian novels of the 20th century. Orwell's "1984" and Zamyatin's "Us" are collectively called the "dystopian trilogy".

  In the book, he made a great prediction about the future world: In the future, human beings will become dolls in the hands of monopoly companies and politicians, losing personal emotions, losing love—sex replaces love, and losing pain, passion and Experience the feeling of danger. The most frightening thing is that people lose their right to think and lose their creativity.

  Aldous Huxley was nominated for the Nobel Prize seven times, but failed to receive the award in his lifetime. Fortunately, this regret was made up by Aldous Huxley's half-brother, Andrew Huxley.

  In addition, the Huxley family has produced many outstanding figures. For example, Julian Huxley was a famous evolutionary biologist. During World War II, when he was unable to conduct scientific research, he actively participated in social movements and transformed into a successful social activist. He founded UNESCO and served as the first director-general, was also one of the founding members of the World Wide Fund for Nature, and served as the first chairman of the British Humane Society; David Huxley is the youngest member of the British royal family Adviser, and later he was Chief Justice of the British Supreme Court...



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