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 recent discovery of the diminutive Homo floresiensis (nicknamed "the Hobbit") in Indonesia has sparked new interest in the study of human evolution. In this Very Short Introduction, renowned evolutionary scholar Bernard Wood traces the history of paleoanthropology from its beginnings in the eighteenth century to today's latest fossil finds. Along the way we are introduced to the lively cast of characters, past and present, involved in evolutionary research. Although concentrating on the fossil evidence for human evolution, the book also covers the latest genetic evidence about regional variations in the modern human genome that relate to our evolutionary history. Wood draws on over thirty years of experience to provide an insiders view of the field, and demonstrates that our understanding of human evolution is critically dependent on advances in related sciences such as paleoclimatology, geochronology, systematics, genetics, and developmental biology. This is an ideal introduction for anyone interested in the origins and development of humankind.
"Passionate, succinct, chilling, closely argued, sometimes hilarious, touchingly well-intentioned, and essential." --Margaret Atwood, The New York Review of Books
Nearly fifteen years ago, in The End of Nature, Bill McKibben demonstrated that humanity had begun to irrevocably alter and endanger our environment on a global scale. Now he turns his eye to an array of technologies that could change our relationship not with the rest of nature but with ourselves. He explores the frontiers of genetic engineering, robotics, and nanotechnology--all of which we are approaching with astonishing speed--and shows that each threatens to take us past a point of no return. We now stand, in Michael Pollan's words, "on a moral and existential threshold," poised between the human past and a post-human future. McKibben offers a celebration of what it means to be human, and a warning that we risk the loss of all meaning if we step across the threshold. Instantly acclaimed for its passion and insight, this wise and eloquent book argues that we cannot forever grow in reach and power--that we must at last learn how to say, "Enough."
"A gifted and thoughtful writer, Metzl brings us to the frontiers of biology and technology, and reveals a world full of promise and peril." -- Siddhartha Mukherjee MD, New York Times bestselling author of The Emperor of All Maladies and The Gene
Passionate, provocative, and highly illuminating, Hacking Darwin is the must read book about the future of our species for fans of Homo Deus and The Gene.
After 3.8 billion years humankind is about to start evolving by new rules...
From leading geopolitical expert and technology futurist Jamie Metzl comes a groundbreaking exploration of the many ways genetic-engineering is shaking the core foundations of our lives -- sex, war, love, and death.
At the dawn of the genetics revolution, our DNA is becoming as readable, writable, and hackable as our information technology. But as humanity starts retooling our own genetic code, the choices we make today will be the difference between realizing breathtaking advances in human well-being and descending into a dangerous and potentially deadly genetic arms race.
Enter the laboratories where scientists are turning science fiction into reality. Look towards a future where our deepest beliefs, morals, religions, and politics are challenged like never before and the very essence of what it means to be human is at play. When we can engineer our future children, massively extend our lifespans, build life from scratch, and recreate the plant and animal world, should we?
With an obsessive fascination that is as contagious as it is compelling, author Jacky Colliss Harvey (herself a redhead) begins her exploration of red hair in prehistory and traces the redhead gene as it made its way out of Africa with the early human diaspora to its emergence under Northern skies. She goes on to explore red hair in the ancient world; the prejudice manifested against red hair across medieval Europe; red hair during the Renaissance as both an indicator of Jewishness during the Inquisition and the height of fashion in Protestant England, under the reign of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I; the modern age of art and literature, and the first positive symbols of red hair in children's characters; modern medicine and science and the genetic and chemical decoding of red hair; and finally, red hair in contemporary culture, from advertising and exploitation to "gingerism"and the new movement against bullying.
The richest, freshest, most fun book on genetics in some time. The New York Times Book Review
We are doomed to repeat history if we fail to learn from it, but how are we affected by the forces that are invisible to us? In The Invisible History of the Human RaceChristine Kenneally draws on cutting-edge research to reveal how both historical artifacts and DNA tell us where we come from and where we may be going. While somebooks explore our genetic inheritance and popular television shows celebrate ancestry, this is the first book to explore how everything from DNA to emotions to namesand the stories that form our lives are all part of our human legacy. Kenneally shows how trust is inherited in Africa, silence is passed down in Tasmania, and how thehistory of nations is written in our DNA. From fateful, ancient encounters to modern mass migrations and medical diagnoses, Kenneally explains how the forces thatshaped the history of the world ultimately shape each human who inhabits it.
The Invisible History of the Human Race is a deeply researched, carefully crafted and provocative perspective on how our stories, psychology, and genetics affect our
past and our future."
The ability of proteins to fold rapidly and efficiently into intricate and highly specific structures following their synthesis on ribosomes is an essential part of the conversion of genetic information into cellular activity. However, little is understood in detail of how this occurs. The Royal Society meeting on which this volume is based focused on the molecular basis of the folding processes and brought together a wide range of leading experimental and theoretical scientists in this field. This volume offers an authoritative collection of the foundations of current work. The first section discusses the experimental elucidation of the pathways of protein folding. The second section looks at theoretical approaches to folding, and the final group addresses the issue of how proteins fold in vivo. This volume will be of value to all those with an interest in protein folding, especially those in molecular biology, biochemistry and cell biology.