Yelena Chernyak AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN MAYNARD SMITH: MECHANISMS OF EVOLUTION John Maynard Smith is not unlike any biologist in that nature and science are his life. Although his career originated as an aircraft engineer, ironically, it lead his to be come an even better evolutionary biologist. A childhood in London, followed by a move to the country only reinforced Johns fascination with nature. Another childhood passion of Smith's was mathematics, which lead him into a career in Aircraft engineering. After attending university for that degree, he was send of to World War II where he made himself useful with his degree in engineering. Although it brought him great pleasure, he had "grown up"ÃÂ by that time and went back for a second degree in biology, his first passion, at the age of 28.
What makes Smith unique is his merging of Mathematics and biology . Following the teachings of the great J.B.S.
Haldane to University College, John was able to see evolution in new light , that combined with genetics. This meager beginning in biology lead Smith to consider many all important and philosophical questions about biology.
On the medical side of his work, Smith is concerned about the bacterial evolution and the consequent drug resistance. It is a serious problem, facing a new need for vaccines for commonly cured diseases such as tuberculosis.
On the more personally fascinating side of Smiths work, is his introspection into the origin of language. This is what separates us from the animals, from chimpanzees, he asserts. This is what is responsible for the take off of human invention and progress in civilization as we know it today"ÃÂ¦the power to communicate is tremendous. Thought itself is based on language, on words, otherwise it is simply feeling, emotion, irrational and unproductive.