Coming to Life

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Books from Nobel laureates in molecular biology have a tradition of being surprising. James Watson(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll) was catty, gossipy, and amusingly egotistical; Francis Crick(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll) went haring off in all kinds of interesting directions, like a true polymath; and Kary Mullis(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll) was just plain nuts. When I heard that Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard was coming out with a book, my interest and curiousity were definitely piqued. The work by Nüsslein-Volhard and Wieschaus has shaped my entire discipline, so I was eagerly anticipating what her new book, Coming to Life: How Genes Drive Development(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll) would have to say.

It wasn't what I expected at all, but I think readers here will be appreciative: it's a primer in developmental biology, written for the layperson! Especially given a few of the responses to my last article, where the jargon seems to have lost some people, this is going to be an invaluable resource.

Continue reading "Coming to Life" (on Pharyngula)

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I’ve probably mentioned this before on Pharyngula (but maybe not on PT): Sean Carroll also has a new book coming out this fall (release date, October 9, 2006):

The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution (Hardcover, 288 pp., W. W. Norton) by Sean B. Carroll

The blurb may be a bit over-the-top, but it still sounds enticing:

DNA evidence not only solves crimes—in Sean Carroll’s hands it will now end the Evolution Wars.

DNA is the genetic material that defines us as individuals. Over the last two decades, it has emerged as a powerful tool for solving crimes and determining guilt and innocence. But, very recently, an important new aspect of DNA has been revealed—-it contains a detailed record of evolution. That is, DNA is a living chronicle of how the marvelous creatures that inhabit our planet have adapted to its many environments, from the freezing waters of the Antarctic to the lush canopy of the rain forest.

In the pages of this highly readable narrative, Sean Carroll guides the general reader on a tour of the massive DNA record of three billion years of evolution to see how the fittest are made. And what a eye-opening tour it is - one featuring immortal genes, fossil genes, and genes that bear the scars of past battles with horrible diseases. This book clinches the case for evolution, beyond any reasonable doubt. 50 illustrations; 8 pages of color.

Of course, the evolution wars would have ended long ago if the standard applied were really “reasonable doubt.”

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on July 20, 2006 9:50 AM.

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