(3) Aplysia Californicus

Aplysia was extremely enjoyable to work with…Because placing a tiny electrode into such a gigantic cell causes essentially no damage, one can record for five to ten hours. I could go to lunch and come back to find the cell still in perfect health.The system for supplying the snails was not very reliable, so it was difficult to obtain them in Paris. We therefore spent close to the entire autumn of 1962 in Arcachon, a beautiful little resort not far from Bordeaux. (p.174)

We were fascinated by its sexual behavior. These snails are hermaphrodites; they can be both male and female, with different partners at different times or even simultaneously. By recognizing one another appropriately they can form impressive copulating chains in which each member serves as both male for the animal in front of it and female for the animal behind it in the chain. (p.188)

After a season studying Aplysia…I felt that I was developing a style of doing science…Without quite knowing it, I had found my voice, much as a writer must feel after having written an number of satisfactory stories. With that finding cam self-assurance, a sense that I could make a go of it in science…Maturation as a scientist involves many components…One needs to learn what problems are important. I sensed myself developing taste, distinguishing what was interesting from what was not—and among the things that were interesting, I also learned what was doable. (p.172)