Gregor Johann Mendel

In this week's Mailbox: We announce the winner of our March competition, a new question for April and you'll also find out how you can win a trip for two to Prague by taking part in Radio Prague's annual listeners' contest. Listeners quoted: Job Nyangau, Kenya; Dennis Mercer, Canada, David Eldridge, Brian Kendall, UK; Larry Cohen, USA.

In this week's Mailbox we have two important things to do. First we need to announce the winner of our March competition and read a new question for April, but even more importantly, today we will announce the question for Radio Prague's annual competition in which you can win a trip for two to Prague.

In March, we got a record number of e-mails telling us the name of the "father of genetics". Unfortunately we can read from only a few of them as we have less time today.

Job Nyangau from Kenya sent us this anwer:

"Gregor Johann Mendel was born on July 22, 1822 in Moravia, Austria. He had his early education in a monastery in Brunn, now Brno, and later studied science and mathematics at the University of Vienna. He graduated in 1840 and returned to the monastery in Brno as a monk... Mendel carried out his legendary experiments on garden pea plants in the monastery garden from 1857 to 1865. He published his research paper containing his observations and conclusions in 1866. They are now known as Mendel's Laws."

Dennis Mercer from Canada writes:

"Mendel's work with pea plants is well known to students of biology. His work was so brilliant and unprecedented at the time that it took thirty-four years for the rest of the scientific community to catch up! So brilliant and intelligent in fact, that Gregor Mendel's simple experiments with the garden pea instigated the science of genetics and answered many of Darwin's questions. It took a Czech to discover this and establish the modern science we now have today in the 20th century."

David Eldridge from England wrote:

"I didn't have to go to the Internet, nor even books, to know that Gregor Mendel is know as 'the father of genetics'. I can remember teachers at two schools I went to as a child getting quite excited when explaining to the class about Mendel and his pea plants. Peas and genetics are to Mendel as the falling apple is to Newton and gravity."

And this arrived from Larry Cohen from the USA.

"My answer is that Monk Gregor Mendel is considered to be the Father of Modern Genetics... His fundamental work is still studied by every student in the life sciences to this day."

But there can be only one winner and this time it is Brian Kendall from England who sent us this answer.

Augustinian monastery in Brno | Photo: Misa.jar,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY-SA 3.0
"Gregor Mendel was born into a poor peasant family in 1822. He went on to enter a monastery in Brunn famous for scientific study. In due course, he became the abbot and carried out many experiments with peas. He analysed thousands of them and eventually he formulated what are known as the Laws of Heredity. Two key terms in genetics also come from Mendel: dominance and recessiveness. However much experimenting he may have done with peas, Gregor Mendel was certainly no 'pea brain'."

Congratulations and your prize is in the post! And there is a novelty - as we've been getting more and more answers from you - and March was an absolute record - starting next month we will be drawing one main and three second prizes instead of one!

For our April competition, we are asking you to list all Czech Nobel Prize winners. I won't tell you how many there are but we want the complete list. The address is Radio Prague, 12099, Prague, Czech Republic or [email protected] and the deadline is April 30.

Radio Prague annual competition:

For this year's competition you need to listen carefully. We are asking you to identify three sounds from our archive.