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Woese’s life and contributions stand as an example of a visionary scientist. However, they should also serve as an important reminder that the scientific community must protect itself from dogmatic thinking and from bringing personal hostilities into scientific discussions.

During his life, Woese was awarded a number of scientific recognitions, including (amongst others) the election to the National Academy of Sciences (1988) and the Royal Society (2006), the Leeuwenhoek Medal (the highest honor for microbiologists, given by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences once every decade; 1992), a National Medal of Science (2000), and the Crafoord Prize by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (2003). Sadly, he and his co-workers never were bestowed a well-deserved Nobel Prize.

Today, whenever a student of biology opens their textbook what they see first is a blown up image of the tripartite tree of life – a small tribute to a man and a discovery that changed our view of nature forever.
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