(p. A9) The nematode worm known as C. elegans is only a millimeter long and leads what appears to be a fairly dull existence. It eats bacteria, wriggles around and reaches adulthood in three days. “It consists basically of two tubes, one inside the other,” the English biologist John Sulston wrote in a memoir.
Although some colleagues thought he was wasting time, Dr. Sulston for years spent up to eight hours a day peering through microscopes at these worms. His findings on the genetics of worms won him a Nobel Prize for physiology in 2002.
. . .
His work didn’t involve “bold theories or sudden leaps of understanding,” he wrote in a 2002 memoir, “The Common Thread.” Instead, he saw his role as “gathering data for the sake of seeing the whole picture.”
For the full obituary, see:
James R. Hagerty. “Exhaustive Study of a Worm Ended in Nobel Prize.” The New York Times (Saturday, March 17, 2018): A9.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date March 16, 2018, and has the title “Sulston’s Work on Lowly Worm Led to Major Role in Mapping Human Genome.”)
Sulston’s 2002 memoir, mentioned above, is:
Sulston, John, and Georgina Ferry. The Common Thread: A Story of Science, Politics, Ethics and the Human Genome. Washington, DC: Joseph Henry Press, 2002.