Paperback ISBN: 0300158505
Fifty years ago Francis Crick and James D. Watson proposed the double helix model for the DNA molecule. They believed they had, as Crick put it, discovered the “secret of life,” and many agreed. But in the intervening years, science has marched—sometimes leaped—forward, and now the question “What is life?” must be posed once again. In this accessible and fascinating book, Michel Morange draws on recent advances in molecular genetics, evolutionary biology, astrobiology, and other disciplines to find today’s answers to the question of life. He begins by discussing the various answers that have been formulated in the past, setting contemporary definitions of life within a rich philosophical and scientific tradition that reaches back to ancient Greece. Then, with impeccable logic and a wealth of appropriate detail, Morange proceeds to lay out the fundamental characteristics that define life. The road to an understanding of life remains incompletely charted, he concludes, but the nature of its final destination is no longer an enigma.
The Double Helix
A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA
Paperback ISBN: 0393950751
Since its publication in 1968, The Double Helix has given countless readers a rare and exciting look at one highly significant piece of scientific research--Watson and Crick's race to discover the molecular structure of DNA. In this Norton Critical Edition, Watson's lively and irreverent account is placed in historical perspective by Gunther Stent's introduction and by retrospective views from two major figures in the adventure, Francis Crick and Linus Pauling, and by Rosalind Franklin's last student, Aaron Klug. Background materials include reproductions of the original scientific papers in which the double helical structure of DNA was first presented in 1953 and 1954. In Criticism, which begins with "A Review of the Reviews" by Gunther Stent, other scientists and scholars reveal their own experiences and views of Watson's story. There are reviews by Philip Morrison, F. X. S., Richard C. Lewontin, Mary Ellmann, Robert L. Sinsheimer, John Lear, Alex Comfort, Jacob Bronowski, Conrad H. Waddington, Robert K. Merton, Peter M. Medawar, and AndrÃ© Lwoff; as well as three letters to the editor of Science by Max F. Perutz, M. H. F. Wilkins, and James D. Watson.
It Ain't Necessarily So
The Dream of the Human Genome and Other Illusions
Paperback ISBN: 0940322951
Is our nature—as individuals, as a species—determined by our evolution and encoded in our genes? If we unravel the protein sequences of our DNA, will we gain the power to cure all of our physiological and psychological afflictions and even to solve the problems of our society? Today biologists—especially geneticists—are proposing answers to questions that have long been asked by philosophy or faith or the social sciences. Their work carries the weight of scientific authority and attracts widespread public attention, but it is often based on what the renowned evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin identifies as a highly reductive misconception: "the pervasive error that confuses the genetic state of an organism with its total physical and psychic nature as a human being." In these nine essays covering the history of modern biology from Darwin to Dolly the sheep, all of which were originally published in The New York Review of Books, Lewontin combines sharp criticisms of overreaching scientific claims with lucid expositions of the exact state of current scientific knowledge—not only what we do know, but what we don't and maybe won't anytime soon. Among the subjects he discusses are heredity and natural selection, evolutionary psychology and altruism, nineteenth-century naturalist novels, sex surveys, cloning, and the Human Genome Project. In each case he casts an ever-vigilant and deflationary eye on the temptation to look to biology for explanations of everything we want to know about our physical, mental, and social lives. These essays—several of them updated with epilogues that take account of scientific developments since they were first written—are an indispensable guide to the most controversial issues in the life sciences today. The second edition of this collection includes new essays on genetically modified food and the completion of the Human Genome Project. It is an indispensable guide to the most controversial issues in the life sciences today.
The Tangled Tree
A Radical New History of Life
Hardcover ISBN: 1476776628
Nonpareil science writer David Quammen explains how recent discoveries in molecular biology can change our understanding of evolution and life’s history, with powerful implications for human health and even our own human nature. The Tangled Tree features an eight-page insert with black and white art throughout. In the mid-1970s, scientists began using DNA sequences to reexamine the history of all life. Perhaps the most startling discovery to come out of this new field—the study of life’s diversity and relatedness at the molecular level—is horizontal gene transfer (HGT), or the movement of genes across species lines. It turns out that HGT has been widespread and important. For instance, we now know that roughly eight percent of the human genome arrived not through traditional inheritance from directly ancestral forms, but sideways by viral infection—a type of HGT. In The Tangled Tree David Quammen, “one of that rare breed of science journalists who blends exploration with a talent for synthesis and storytelling” (Nature), chronicles these discoveries through the lives of the researchers who made them—such as Carl Woese, the most important little-known biologist of the twentieth century; Lynn Margulis, the notorious maverick whose wild ideas about “mosaic” creatures proved to be true; and Tsutomu Wantanabe, who discovered that the scourge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a direct result of horizontal gene transfer, bringing the deep study of genome histories to bear on a global crisis in public health. “Quammen is no ordinary writer. He is simply astonishing, one of that rare class of writer gifted with verve, ingenuity, humor, guts, and great heart” (Elle). Now, in The Tangled Tree, he explains how molecular studies of evolution have brought startling recognitions about the tangled tree of life—including where we humans fit upon it. Thanks to new technologies such as CRISPR, we now have the ability to alter even our genetic composition—through sideways insertions, as nature has long been doing. The Tangled Tree is a brilliant guide to our transformed understanding of evolution, of life’s history, and of our own human nature.
Arrival of the Fittest
Solving Evolution's Greatest Puzzle
Hardcover ISBN: 1591846463
Draws on experimental and computational technologies to argue that evolutionary adaptations are driven by a set of laws that allow for higher-speed natural adaptations that are far more efficient than random variation.
The God Gene
How Faith Is Hardwired Into Our Genes
Paperback ISBN: 0385720319
A noted geneticist and author of The Science of Desire offers a provocative argument that humans are genetically predisposed toward religious faith, explaining why spiritual belief provides an evolutionary advantage and revealing, through an analysis of the DNA makeup of people of various ages and backgrounds, how to identify a so-called God gene. Reprint. 25,000 first printing.
She Has Her Mother's Laugh
The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity
Hardcover ISBN: 1101984597
Award-winning, celebrated New York Times columnist and science writer Carl Zimmer presents a history of our understanding of heredity in this sweeping, resonating overview of a force that shaped human society--a force set to shape our future even more radically. She Has Her Mother's Laugh presents a profoundly original perspective on what we pass along from generation to generation. Charles Darwin played a crucial part in turning heredity into a scientific question, and yet he failed spectacularly to answer it. The birth of genetics in the early 1900s seemed to do precisely that. Gradually, people translated their old notions about heredity into a language of genes. As the technology for studying genes became cheaper, millions of people ordered genetic tests to link themselves to missing parents, to distant ancestors, to ethnic identities. . . . But, Zimmer writes, "Each of us carries an amalgam of fragments of DNA, stitched together from some of our many ancestors. Each piece has its own ancestry, traveling a different path back through human history. A particular fragment may sometimes be cause for worry, but most of our DNA influences who we are--our appearance, our height, our penchants--in inconceivably subtle ways." Heredity isn't just about genes that pass from parent to child. Heredity continues within our own bodies, as a single cell gives rise to trillions of cells that make up our bodies. We say we inherit genes from our ancestors--using a word that once referred to kingdoms and estates--but we inherit other things that matter as much or more to our lives, from microbes to technologies we use to make life more comfortable. We need a new definition of what heredity is and, through Carl Zimmer's lucid exposition and storytelling, this resounding tour de force delivers it. Weaving historical and current scientific research, his own experience with his two daughters, and the kind of original reporting expected of one of the world's best science journalists, Zimmer ultimately unpacks urgent bioethical quandaries arising from new biomedical technologies, but also long-standing presumptions about who we really are and what we can pass on to future generations.
Redesigning the Future of Humanity - One Gene at a Time
Paperback ISBN: 0143108344
An eye-opening, mind-bending exploration of how mankind is reshaping its genetic future, based on the viral TED Talk series “Will Our Kids Be a Different Species?” and “The Next Species of Human.” Are you willing to engineer the DNA of your unborn children and grand-children to be healthier? Better looking? More intelligent? Why are rates of autism, asthma, and allergies exploding at an unprecedented pace? Why are humans living longer and having far fewer kids? Futurist Juan Enriquez and scientist Steve Gullans conduct a sweeping tour of how humans are changing the course of evolution for all species—sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. For example: • What if life forms are limited only by the bounds of our imagination? Are designer babies and pets, de-extinction, even entirely newspecies fair game? • As humans, animals, and plants become ever more resistant to disease and aging, what will become the leading causes of death? • Man-machine interfaces may allow humans to live much longer. What will happen when we transfer parts of our “selves” into clones, into stored cells and machines? Though these harbingers of change are deeply unsettling, the authors argue we are also in an epoch of tremendous opportunity. Future humans, perhaps a more diverse, resilient, gentler, and intelligent species, may become better caretakers of the planet—but only if we make the right choices now. Intelligent, provocative, and optimistic, Evolving Ourselves is the ultimate guide to the next phase of life on Earth. Chosen by Nature magazine as a Fall 2016 season highlight.
Mapping Human History
Genes, Race, and Our Common Origins
Paperback ISBN: 0618352104
A history of human existence as culled from the latest genetics research seeks to unveil some of the mysteries surrounding human origin, migration, and language development and discusses human differences and what those variations mean in today's world. Reprint.