NOBEL LAUREATE ADDS HIS FOOTPRINT AT MAROPENG
The 2003 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, Professor Peter Agre, is the latest in a string of Nobel laureates to have his footprint displayed outside the Tumulus building at the Maropeng Visitor’s Centre, situated within the Cradle of Humankind.
The American physician, professor and molecular biologist took a tour of Maropeng on 13 October, accompanied by the University of Witwatersrand’s Professor Francis Thackeray, following which his footprint was taken. His footprint will be displayed along with that of South African Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, Czech Republic President Václav Klaus, former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and Nobel laureate, Sydney Brenner
“This is a historic moment,” said Thackeray after the ceremony. He went on to explain the significance of footprints in our understanding of human evolution, saying: “We’ve found footprints in Africa that prove Darwin’s theory that our species originated in Africa”, adding: “Thank you Professor Agre for coming home to the African continent.”
Agre won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of aquaporins, which are proteins that regulate the flow of water in plants and animals. Speaking at the ceremony, he spoke of the difference between ancient hominids and modern humans with respect to his research. “We don’t have the same stresses the hominids did,” he said. “They would, for example, endure for long periods without water, even experience drought.”
This means that the way water was processed in the cells of our ancestors was much more significant than it is for us. “For the hominids it was a matter of life or death,” said Agre. For modern humans it is still significant because it relates to certain diseases, such as heart disease and obesity.
Managing Director for Maropeng, Tony Rubin, says this latest footprint in the famed walkway will serve as further enticement for learners and visitors to Maropeng, cementing the centre’s status as a top Gauteng tourism and educational attraction.
PREPARED ON BEHALF OF MAROPENG BY CATHY FINDLEY PUBLIC RELATIONS. QUERIES TO NICOLLE KAIRUZ AT NICOLLE@FINDLEYPR.CO.ZA OR (011) 463-6372