Friday, December 31, 2010
Lynn Margulis was born in 1938. She is a biologist and teaches in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Margulis is interested in how the cells that we're made of came to have parts called "organelles." She believes that complex cells, called "eukaryotes," are the descendants of simpler cells. The ancient, simpler cells tried to eat each other. Instead they began working relationships. They became parts of something new. Margulis says a cell isn't like a bacterium. It's "a microbial community."
When Margulis first published these ideas, scientists didn't believe them. Now they are accepted by most biologists.
She believes that new species happen when existing species take on genes from other species. The traditional theory says that genes mutate, and if the mutations help, the new species survive. Margulis also helped originate the Gaia Hypothesis. The Gaia Hypothesis says that life works to keep the world's oxygen and other elements at the levels that life needs.
Marie Curie's Beauty Tips Department: Margulis was married to the late astronomer and television personality Carl Sagan, and is the mother of five.