Wednesday, March 2, 2011

G.P. ('Gip') Wells

G.P. Wells (R), Iagor Kazalikashvili (M) and a well-known botanist and 
geneticist Nikolai Vavilov (L) in the mountains of the S.S.R. of Georgia, date unknown

George Philip Wells (1901 – 1985), son of the British science fiction author H. G. Wells, was a zoologist and author. He co-authored, with his father and Julian Huxley, The Science of Life. A pupil at Oundle School, he was in the first class to learn Russian as a modern language in a British school. He accompanied his father to Soviet Russia in 1920, acting as his Russian translator and exchanging ideas with Russian zoology students. He won an entrance Exhibition to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he became Senior Scholar in his first year of residence.
Wells, a comparative physiologist, worked on invertebrates of several phyla. He determined their tolerance for changes in the salinity and the ionic balance of the surrounding water, and analysed the water relations of land gastropods.
For the latter part of his career he was a member of staff in the Zoology Department of University College London, eventually as professor. His range of zoological knowledge was notably wide, and his main research was on the behaviour of the lugworm Arenicola. He determined its habits by elegant experiments, and showed that the rhythm which controls many of its activities arises in the oesophagus. Such spontaneous rhythmic activity was shown to occur in many polychaetes.
He was known to all by his nickname, Gip, and appears by this name in his father's fictional story The Magic Shop. He was elected FRS in 1955.

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