Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the leading scientist Professor Sir Tom Blundell. His specialism is in molecular biology, which involves studying the tiniest building blocks of life under a microscope, in the hope of finding treatments for diseases such as cancer and diabetes. It is a hugely visual kind of science, and this, he says, is no coincidence - he loves science first and foremost for its beauty.
He regularly seeks this beauty beyond the laboratory too; in art, in music and in travelling all over the world. One very special trip was to Africa for his wedding, after which he was somewhat surprised at being asked to pay for his Zimbabwean bride - a fellow academic - in cows. As a working class student at Oxford in the 1960s, he developed a fascination with politics, and at one point this activism threatened to overwhelm his life completely. When forced to choose between science and politics, he says he realised that politics was simply too hard. In recent years, he has finally been able to combine the two, by chairing numerous government science committees, and making key recommendations on issues as diverse as mad cow disease and climate change.
[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]
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