A surreal day: David Attenborough, the 1% and well-dressed labwork


Life around the Antonelli Lab is rarely boring. At the very least, we can expect a regular supply of cake, supplemented with discussion on the number of sugar cubes that make up 1 kg of sugar (250) and how those would look when stacked in a mega-cube (surprisingly small: ca. 6x6x7 cubes) (Citation?). And at best we can expect full-on, star-studded nerd encounters.

Last month Alex and I took a break from afternoon cakes to for an otherworldly experience: meeting his voiceyness, Sir David Attenborough.

We met Attenborough as he concluded an interview with Skavlan, arguably the most famous TV presenter in Scandinavia. We were granted a few private moments to present him with an honourary membership to the GGBC and chat briefly about the biodiversity research going on at the centre and in the Antonelli Lab. To be honest, I hardly remember a word he said. I only recall that his voice is just as charming and hypnotic in real life—or maybe even more so??—than in the Planet Earth films.

Antonelli, Attenborough and Perrigo. On the left is famous TV presenter Fredrik Skavlan trying (unsuccessfully) not to photobomb us.



It goes without saying that the man is a legend, but I’ll say it anyway. The man is a legend. For many of us, he provides the verbal soundtrack for the best view into nature’s hidden happenings that we could ever hope to see. And somehow at 92 it seems he still isn’t looking into retirement any time soon.

This was pretty clear as we watched him plant a tree in our very own botanical garden! Not without a certain amount of concern on the part of garden boss Mari Källersjö, as she watched him descend the unexpectedly muddy, makeshift steps from the planting spot. But all’s well that ends well, and the garden is now home to one more beautiful magnolia tree with an extraordinary backstory.

Attenborough then went on to speak at The Climate Conference, an all day and evening fundraising event for The Perfect World Foundation. A good summary of the day can be seen here. The evening was swishy and swanky, and not exactly the type of place you would expect to find some errant and star-struck biologists. The dress code was black tie, the art up for auction went for tens of thousands of euros, and there was a lot of optimistic talk about the future of polar bears. And we certainly had a ball – once everything was finished back in the lab.


Antonelli and Perrigo: Pre-night prep.


A lot happier on our way to the Polar Bear Gala,

with Agneta Green (Botaniska), Alex Antonelli (GGBC, GU),

Mari Källersjö (Botaniska), Björn Aldén (Botaniska) and

Allison Perrigo (GGBC, GU)





Allison Perrigo