Fewer ideas have been more toxic or harmful than the idea of the biological reality of race, and with it the idea that humans of different races are biologically different from one another. For this understandable reason, the idea has been banished from polite academic conversation. Arguing that race is more than just a social construct can get a scholar run out of town, or at least off campus, on a rail. Human evolution, the consensus view insists, ended in prehistory.Inconveniently, as Nicholas Wade argues in A Troublesome Inheritance, the consensus view cannot be right. And in fact, we know that populations have changed in the past few thousand years--to be lactose tolerant, for example, and to survive at high altitudes. Race is not a bright-line distinction; by definition it means that the more human populations are kept apart, the more they evolve their own distinct traits under the selective pressure known as Darwinian evolution. For many thousands of years, most human populations stayed where they were and grew distinct, not just in outward appearance but in deeper senses as well. Wade, the longtime journalist covering genetic advances for The New York Times, draws widely on the work of scientists who have made crucial breakthroughs in establishing the reality of recent human evolution. The most provocative claims in this book involve the genetic basis of human social habits. What we might call middle-class social traits--thrift, docility, nonviolence--have been slowly but surely inculcated genetically within agrarian societies, Wade argues. These "values" obviously had a strong cultural component, but Wade points to evidence that agrarian societies evolved away from hunter-gatherer societies in some crucial respects. Also controversial are his findings regarding the genetic basis of traits we associate with intelligence, such as literacy and numeracy, in certain ethnic populations, including the Chinese and Ashkenazi Jews. Wade believes deeply in the fundamental equality of all human peoples. He also believes that science is best served by pursuing the truth without fear, and if his mission to arrive at a coherent summa of what the new genetic science does and does not tell us about race and human history leads straight into a minefield, then so be it. This will not be the last word on the subject, but it will begin a powerful and overdue conversation.
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.
DNA, the genetic blueprint of all creatures, is a stunningly rich and detailed record of evolution. Every change or new trait, from the gaudy colors of tropical birds to our color vision with which we admire them, is due to changes in DNA that leave a record and can be traced. Just as importantly, the DNA evidence has revealed several profound surprises about how evolution actually works.
Richard Dawkins' brilliant reformulation of the theory of natural selection has the rare distinction of having provoked as much excitement and interest outside the scientific community as within it. His theories have helped change the whole nature of the study of social biology, and have forced thousands of readers to rethink their beliefs about life.
In his internationally bestselling, now classic volume, The Selfish Gene, Dawkins explains how the selfish gene can also be a subtle gene. The world of the selfish gene revolves around savage competition, ruthless exploitation, and deceit, and yet, Dawkins argues, acts of apparent altruism do exist in nature. Bees, for example, will commit suicide when they sting to protect the hive, and birds will risk their lives to warn the flock of an approaching hawk.
This 30th anniversary edition of Dawkins' fascinating book retains all original material, including the two enlightening chapters added in the second edition. In a new Introduction the author presents his thoughts thirty years after the publication of his first and most famous book, while the inclusion of the two-page original Foreword by brilliant American scientist Robert Trivers shows the enthusiastic reaction of the scientific community at that time. This edition is a celebration of a remarkable exposition of evolutionary thought, a work that has been widely hailed for its stylistic brilliance and deep scientific insights, and that continues to stimulate whole new areas of research today.
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."
Joining the ranks of modern myth busters, Dr. Sharon Moalem turns our current understanding of illness on its head and challenges us to fundamentally change the way we think about our bodies, our health, and our relationship to just about every other living thing on earth, from plants and animals to insects and bacteria.
So why does disease exist? Moalem proposes that most common ailments--diabetes, hemochromatosis, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia--came into existence for very good reasons. At some point they helped our ancestors survive some grand challenge to their existence. Examining the evolution of man, Moalem reveals the role genetic and cultural differences have played in the health and well-being of various races, including their susceptibility to disease.
With mesmerizing insight, Moalem offers groundbreaking insight into:
- How diabetes may be a biproduct of a mechanism that helped humans survive the Ice Age
- Why African Americans living in the north might suffer from vitamin D deficiencies,
- Why Asians can't drink as much alcohol as Europeans
Revelatory, utterly engaging, and timely--Moalem ponders strongN1, the emerging Avian Flu virus--Why Redheads Feel More Pain and Asians Can't Drink will irrevocably change the way we think about our bodies and ourselves.
What is everything really made of? If we split matter down into smaller and infinitesimally smaller pieces, where do we arrive? At the Particle Zoo - the extraordinary subatomic world of antimatter, ghostly neutrinos, strange-flavoured quarks and time-travelling electrons, gravitons and glueballs, mindboggling eleven-dimensional strings and the elusive Higgs boson itself.
Be guided around this strangest of zoos by Gavin Hesketh, experimental particle physicist at humanity's greatest experiment, the Large Hadron Collider. Concisely and with a rare clarity, he demystifies how we are uncovering the inner workings of the universe and heading towards the next scientific revolution.
Why are atoms so small? How did the Higgs boson save the universe? And is there a Theory of Everything? The Particle Zoo answers these and many other profound questions, and explains the big ideas of Quantum Physics, String Theory, The Big Bang and Dark Matter... and, ultimately, what we know about the true, fundamental nature of reality.
An illustrated introduction to genetics.
The Secret Life of Genes is the story of genetic science and how it makes each of us unique. It spans the discovery of the gene and the all-encompassing role it plays in biology: from controlling the inner workings of cells and the development of embryos, through patterns of inheritance, to the evolution of new forms of life. From there developed the vast and boundless field of genetic science and research.
Readers will get a sneak peek into the Human Genome Project, the international scientific research project with the goal of determining the sequence of nucleotide base pairs that make up human DNA. From this, scientists identified and mapped all of the genes of the human genome from both a physical and a functional standpoint, and opened a Pandora's box of secrets: the hidden workings of the human genome; how gene switching, junk DNA, and genetic mutation might be affecting our everyday lives; and why patents are soaring for genetic inventions.
The Secret Life of Genes is written in accessible language and organized for easy comprehension. It opens with the basics and the key theories, goes on to describe DNA sequencing and what we can do with it. It then looks at the history of the world's DNA and gives readers an exciting glimpse of the future of the field.
In 1994 Bryan Sykes was called in as an expert to examine the frozen remains of a man trapped in glacial ice in northern Italy for over 5000 years--the Ice Man. Sykes succeeded in extracting DNA from the Ice Man, but even more important, writes Science News, was his "ability to directly link that DNA to Europeans living today." In this groundbreaking book, Sykes reveals how the identification of a particular strand of DNA that passes unbroken through the maternal line allows scientists to trace our genetic makeup all the way back to prehistoric times--to seven primeval women, the "seven daughters of Eve."