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121. Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins
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122. Out of Control: The New Biology
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123. Handbook of Proteolytic Enzymes,
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124. DNA Microarrays and Gene Expression
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125. Advances in Protein Chemistry,
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126. Evolution : The Remarkable History
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127. What is Life? : With Mind and
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128. Discovering Genomics, Proteomics,
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129. Game Theory: A Nontechnical Introduction
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130. Evolutionary Biology
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131. The Voyage of the Beagle: Charles
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140. Essentials of Genetics (5th Edition)

121. Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge
by Jeremy Narby
list price: $13.95
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Asin: 0874779642
Catlog: Book (1999-04-01)
Publisher: Jeremy P. Tarcher
Sales Rank: 26134
Average Customer Review: 3.95 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A personal adventure, a fascinating study of anthropology and ethnopharmacology, and, most important, a revolutionary look at how intelligence and consciousness come into being.

This adventure in science and imagination, which the Medical Tribune said might herald "a Copernican revolution for the life sciences," leads the reader through unexplored jungles and uncharted aspects of mind to the heart of knowledge.

In a first-person narrative of scientific discovery that opens new perspectives on biology, anthropology, and the limits of rationalism, The Cosmic Serpent reveals how startlingly different the world around us appears when we open our minds to it.

"The Cosmic Serpent is a spellbinding, scholarly tour de force that may presage a major paradigm shift in the Western view of reality." --Michael Harner, Ph.D., president, Foundation for Shamanic Studies, and author of The Way of the Shaman
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Reviews (37)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good questions, but inconclusive
Jeremy Narby's argument is that when shaman's drink hallucinogenic brews, their consciousness sinks to the molecular level, and literally communicates with DNA, the basic building block of life. DNA appears to shamans, and others who drink these magic brews, as serpents. This is why, Narby claims, serpents loom large in ancient cultures around the world. It is also how shamans get their expert knowledge of plants. When shamans say that the spirit in the plants tell them how to concoct life-saving remedies, they mean what they say. In hallucinogenic trances, the plants speak. Narby goes onto to speculate that the world is one vast communication network among strands of DNA. You don't have to buy the DNA-communication theory to enjoy this book. It is written in an engaging, personal, first person narrative style. It shows how science works, how "eureka moments" occur when one is relaxed and thinking about other things. Maybe his theory is totally off-base, but even so, big ideas like this one often spur research in different, interesting directions. We are only as good as our questions, and Narby's question is a great one: What if the shamans are right?

5-0 out of 5 stars An insightful book that leads us back to the planet.
I found this to be one of the most exciting books I have ever read. Not because of the science or the shaman perspective but because it leads us out of the clouds and back to the planet we live on to learn fundamental truths about life. The appreciation and love of our planet and all its species is crucial to our continued existence and Dr. Narby certainly whets our interest with his fascinating hypotheses. Perhaps, if God created everything and God is in us and all around us, God and DNA may be synonymous. And how wonderful it would be for us to feel that God actually has such a close physical association with us instead of being a separate being living in a far off realm. This book brings a number of important ideas and concepts together to attempt the creation of a whole meaning. Wonderful read!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Cosmic Serpent: DNA And The Origins of Knowledge
I have always been conflicted with the theory of evolution. It seems rational, but speciously so. It ignores consciousness, which is senior to science. Surely, any theory that purports to map out the arrow of life must account for our ability to know that we know. Without bringing theology or Creationism, God forbid (pun intended) into the equation, Narby explains a viewpoint that puts sentinent life onto center stage. Weaving together intuition and rationlism, Narby allowed me to dispell my conflict and realize that LIFE is consciousness and is the driving force behind "evolutionary" progress. Sounds corny, I know, but read it with an open mind and see if your views don't change, even a bit.

4-0 out of 5 stars Incredible Ruminations
This book takes you on a wild ride of DNA, mythology, and culture and somehow integrates them. The only problem is you have to be somewhat of a believer in the first place to allow Mr. Narby to buckle you in and hit the thrusts. Really though, it is a fascinating cultural study that never claims to be true or untrue, it just reports what was said and seen. There is a power to ayahuasca and hallucinogenic drugs of which we still don't know the full extent. This book is far-fetched but in today¡¯s rapidly changing world it¡¯s not impossible that we (from the modern world) will not soon agree with them (from the 'primitive' world).

The best part of the book is the way it personalizes and characterizes DNA. After reading it it¡¯s all you will think about: how much is DNA effecting everything we do.

It¡¯s a fascinating read. It points out simple similarities like the fact that the double helix is shaped like a snake but then goes into detail that I can't do justice to here. If you have any interest in DNA or anthopological studies then this book is a must.

1-0 out of 5 stars Weird
This book develops a hypothesis that DNA expresses information about itself to humans through consumption of hallucinogenic plant substances. As support for his idea, Narby notes that many cultures worldwide worshiped serpents or used serpent symbols in some form or another. Narby attributes this to the serpentine nature of the form of DNA which is expressing knowledge of itself to people. According to Narby, people from less-developed cultures, especially religious people, are more likely to be receptive to the messages from DNA because training in rational thought processes doesn't get in the way of transmission of the messages. For me, the most valuable observation that Narby makes is that through meditation, one may connect with new ideas and ways to look at problems that the unconscious mind has discovered while the rational mind was chasing down facts. Unlike Narby, however, I think I personally would look for a few more pieces of hard evidence to support the wild ideas of the unconscious mind before publishing them. The book includes extensive references; in fact, there are 60 pages of endnotes and 20 pages of bibliography in the 246 page text. ... Read more


122. Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World
by Kevin Kelly
list price: $22.95
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Asin: 0201483408
Catlog: Book (1995-05-01)
Publisher: Perseus Books Group
Sales Rank: 23033
Average Customer Review: 4.24 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

In many ways, the 20th century has been the Age of Physics. Out of Control is an accessible and entertaining explanation of why the coming years will probably be the Age of Biology -- particularly evolution and ethology --and what this will mean to most every aspect of our society. Kelly is an enthusiastic and well-informed guide who explains the promises and implications of this rapidly evolving revolution very well. ... Read more

Reviews (37)

4-0 out of 5 stars Painful but thought provoking evaluation of complex systems
This is the best badly written book I have read lately. Kelly's book provides an enthusiastic reflection on the evolution of complex systems, full of vivid images and provocative metaphors, yet one can't avoid the impression he wrote it down as he thought of it. Kelly is a magazine editor (Wired) and his book comes across like a 475-page magazine article -- whenever he decides to change directions mid-chapter, he simply inserts a rosette and moves on. This book and its readers would have been well served by passing the text through the hands of a demanding book editor -- the result would have been a text about 150 pages shorter and much clearer. It also would have been helpful to have had the text proofread -- I nearly tore up the book reading over and over his confused expression "hone in on", an illiterate cross between "hone" and "home in on." I don't know Kelly's educational background. Reading his book I get the impression that his formal credentials are minimal but that he's very good at finding smart people and following them around. The result is a book that chronicles the development of this field while communicating his fascination with complex concepts he just barely understands, and his dilletante's infatuation with the jargon that describes it. The ideas in this book, and particularly the juxtapositions of ideas that Kelly assembles, are well worth reading about. But a better approach might be to skim the book, noting authors and titles, and then go straight to the source material listed at length in the back.

5-0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended for anyone interested in the future.
Love this book. A great introduction to a world of ideas and concepts about evolution and technologies that are already shaping our (near) future. Horizon-expanding ideas--indeed, the chapter on Borges Library literally had my brain "buzzing" with activity and a restless night of wild dreams on the subject. As the author states himself, he does not write or develop anything new, rather, he creates exposure to the fascinating work of others. Though it is not difficult or dry, the entire book is concepts--not for someone looking for a light novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars Nature Creates New Things Out of Nothing Every Day
This book must have been as much fun for Kevin Kelly to write as it is to read. It's a little long but very easy to understand. It'll make you think and you are sure to enjoy thinking about the ideas and examples in here.

A more correct title might be "Out of Centralized Control." Kelly's point is that Nature is not a command and control monolith, but instead, a network of relatives, friends, neighbors, and sometimes predators. Nature does not control the Universe so much as it encourages cooperation within the Universe. The examples Kelly gives in the first few pages set the tone of the rest of the book. One is the flock of geese, which somehow knows its migration path from hemisphere to hemisphere even though none of the geese in the flock have ever flown it before.

As Kelly shows us, there are plenty of surprises in Nature. Uncertainty is built in. That's life ! Some readers might find it hard to believe that Nature is not particularly concerned about efficiency. It doesn't mind duplication, redundancy, and a little waste. It fact, it wants these things because they lead us to flexibility. Kelly's point in all this seems to be that Nature does not play by the numbers.

It might be even harder for some readers to believe, at first, that Nature creates new things out of nothing every day. But, Kelly will win you over on that point and many more. His "Nine Laws of God" which sum up the book in the last chapter made me want to read it a second time.

One nice companion to this book would be "Morphic Resonance and the The Presence of the Past: The Habits of Nature" by Ruppert Sheldrake. That book presents a theory that is considered radical by many, yet the critics usually concede that it's well reasoned and fills many of the gaps in our knowledge of Nature.

If you'd like to think about the theological implications of Kelly's ideas, try a few books about process theology, particularly these: "A Basic Introduction to Process Theology" by Robert Mesle, "What is Process Theology?" by Robert Mellert, and "Ominipotence and Other Theological Mistakes" by Charles Hartshorne.

3-0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking book, but newer titles offer more insight
This book was groundbreaking in 1994; its insights have been improved upon by more recent writing on the same subjects. If you are interested in this topic, I recommend considering Steven Johnson's EMERGENCE before you buy this book; Johnson discussions some of Kelly's ideas, but offers are more up-to-date analysis of the phenomenon of non-hierarchical/centralized models of organization. Otherwise, this book is valuable for its historical positioning--how things seemed and were seen almost a decade ago.

4-0 out of 5 stars Giddy Plagiarism
I agree with the "Chicago reader" who said this book could've used an editor, but it's one of the best poorly-written books I've read too.

Kelly's cheerleading for the decentralized, "hive-mind" mentality smacks of the giddy 1940's Tomorrowland propaganda -- oblivious to market realities, people's resistance to change and the fact that simple technologies always win head-to-head competitions with more complex technologies. Yet he makes a valiant attempt to pull a Douglas Hofstadter, and write a "Godel Escher Bach" of future technologies. None of his examples or conclusions are original, but that doesn't diminish the cumulative power of his argument. ... Read more


123. Handbook of Proteolytic Enzymes, Two-Volume Set with CD-ROM
list price: $399.95
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Asin: 0120796104
Catlog: Book (2003-09)
Publisher: Academic Press
Sales Rank: 661786
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Book Description

Extensively revised and updated, the new edition of the highly regarded Handbook of Proteolytic Enzymes is an essential reference for biochemists, biotechnologists and molecular biologists. Edited by world-renowned experts in the field, this comprehensive work provides detailed information on all known proteolytic enzymes to date. This two-volume set unveils new developments on proteolytic enzymes which are being investigatedin pharmaceutical research for such diseases as HIV, Hepatitis C, and the common cold.

Volume I covers aspartic and metallo petidases while Volume II examines peptidases of cysteine, serine, threonine and unknown catalytic type. A CD-ROM accompanies the book containing fully searchable text, specialised scissile bond searches, 3-D color structures and much more.

* Presents practical information in terms of name, history, activity, specificity, structural chemistry, preparation, biological aspects, distinguishing features, and relevant references for each enzyme; representative assay conditions are also included
* Enzymes are further presented not only according to the Enzyme Commission system, but are further subdivided within each class to include clans and families, based on genetic relatedness
* Provides information and answers on how one peptidase can be distinguished from another and referred to ambiguously, and how a scientist can tell when they have discovered a novel peptidase
* Accompanying CD-ROM provides useful search facilities
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124. DNA Microarrays and Gene Expression : From Experiments to Data Analysis and Modeling
by Pierre Baldi, G. Wesley Hatfield, Wesley G. Hatfield
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Asin: 0521800226
Catlog: Book (2002-09-19)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 271804
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Massive data acquisition technologies--such as genome sequencing, high-throughput drug screening, and DNA arrays--are in the process of revolutionizing biology and medicine. This concise, user-friendly and interdisciplinary guide to DNA microarray technology is an introduction and a reference for both biologists and computational scientists.The authors describe the underlying technologies and offer an awareness of the "noise" and pitfalls present in the data generated. They also provide an idea of the different data mining techniques and algorithms that are available to interpret data, and the advantages and disadvantages of each in differing situations. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent book. Recommended.
This book has a good balance between experimental and computational methods. It provides a description of DNA microarray technologies, experimental protocols, and the multiple sources of noise and variability. The book contains an insightful overview of the computational issues and available algorithms for data analysis from differential expression, to dimensionality reduction and visualization (e.g. PCA), to clustering (e.g. hierarchical). New methods are described to gether with a good overview of available software, data bases, web sites, and other resources, as well as several "walk through" examples. I particularly enjoyed the last chapter on Systems Biology.

5-0 out of 5 stars By far the best book on DNA microarrays.
"Very complete : covers both the experimental and the computational methods with specific examples. Written by two top scientists who have worked hard at complementing each other's strengths. I particularly enjoyed the last chapter on Systems Biology which provides a masterful overview of current resaerch trends." ... Read more


125. Advances in Protein Chemistry, Volume 51: Linkage Thermodynamics of Macromolecular Interactions
by Federic Richards
list price: $146.95
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Asin: 0120342510
Catlog: Book (1998-05-15)
Publisher: Academic Press
Sales Rank: 1970119
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Book Description

This volume commemorates the 50th anniversary of the appearance in Volume 4 in 1948 of Dr. Jeffries Wyman's famous paper in which he "laid down" the foundations of linkage thermodynamics. Experts in this area contribute articles on the state-of-the-art of this important field and on new developments of the original theory. Among the topics covered in this volume are electrostatic contributions to molecular free energies in solution; site-specific analysis of mutational effects in proteins; allosteric transitions of the acetylcholine receptor; and deciphering the molecular code of hemoglobin allostery. ... Read more


126. Evolution : The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory (Modern Library Chronicles)
by Edward J. Larson
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Asin: 0679642889
Catlog: Book (2004-05-04)
Publisher: Modern Library
Sales Rank: 11592
Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (5)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good, up to the second half of the 20th century
Larson is quite competent at describing the history of evolutionary thought up until recent decades. Then he becomes obsessed with Wilson's pop-sci "sociobiology" and completely misses the much more significant Zukerkandl & Pauling, Kimura, Jukes & Cantor, Walter Fitch, and the whole revolution in molecular evolution which brought evolution out of the swamps of mere "naturalism" and into serious molecular and genomic studies.

1-0 out of 5 stars Much ado over nothing
Overblown worthless drivel. Much hype over an old idea

5-0 out of 5 stars A Litte of Everything
Edward J. Larson manages to pack this little book. The author goes beyond the usual small format of the Modern Library Chronicles series only a little in terms of page number but seems to cram much more information in than the readers of this dazzling series usually encounter. And the joy is that he does it so effortlessly, with scientific jargonize only sneaking in near the very end. The concept of evolution is covered from Cuvier in the Napoleonic era through Darwin and onto the modern 21st culture wars in America. Everything important is touched on in a manner that makes it relevant, understandable, and interesting, and the story flows quickly and intelligently. It is one of the better volumes of the series making the best use of the space allowed in order to introduce important historical ideas and events to the general reader. A highly recommended read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Evolution-- a history of delusion
This is a well-done and very succint history of the theory of evolution, or at least, Darwin's theory, from the eighteenth century to the present. Even a critic of Darwinism might find it interesting as far as it goes. Unfortunately the subject of evolution is so filled with confusion even, or especially, among Darwinists (and the Darwin book market no doubt so unforgiving)that any historical account is likely to mirror the standard hero myth and even a specialist is likely to follow the programmed theoretical 'pack of lies',unawares. The key moment, not for theory, but general paradigm fixation, was of course the publication of Darwin's Origin (with Wallace quietly squelched in the background in the famous Ternate letter episode ensuring Darwin's priority). One of the confusions of this history is that early researchers understood the complexity of the question, and would never have proposed an idea as simplistic as Darwin's, which however took over the field. As Larson points out, by the end of the nineteenth century, Darwin's theory of natural selection was in eclipse and only made a comeback with the rise of the Synthesis. The appearance of the new population genetics, with its mathematical veneer, and new twists seen in the work of such as Hamilton, took on the appearance of a final triumph, especially with its crackpot versions of the evolution of ethics, always the stumbling block for a theory like Darwin's. But it is as if the Darwinists have learned their lesson and won't let it be eclipsed again. Historians of the subject are at the mercy of this second round of delusion, often unable to see the limits of the math models which most definitely are not a full theory of evolution.
A complete history of the idea of evolution might as well point out that Lamarck was the real founder of evolution, despite his other confusions over adaptation for which he is mainly known. Or point to the teleomechanists working in the legacy of Kant, or the work of such as St. Hilaire in embryology, a contribution only now becoming known. Indeed, any history of evolution should be setting the record straight in the age of hox genes and dna. Instead, the paradigm is managing to survive a complete expose of itself. A work such as Soren Lovtrup's Darwinism: Refutation of a Myth does that up to a point.
The appearance of the idea of evolution was in some ways more insightfully considered, though entirely in premature fashion, in the eighteenth century, witness the work of Kant or the insight of Diderot who refects on the embryological aspects of the egg, as recounted by Ilya Prignone in his Order and Chaos. The generations just after Newton still had some who grasped the full implications and difficulty of theories of evolution, but such was the tide of scientism that the whole subject derailed at the start. So, in the sense of Kuhn, everyone seems in the grips of the phase of 'normal science' and unable to wrestle free of the tentacles of delusion. In many ways Lamarck still had the better idea (forgetting the red herring of his adapational confusions) with his insight into two levels of evolution. Lamarck was a radical discredited in the wake of the French Revolution, and rapidly deep sixed. Darwin a proper Whiggist estab type, and swiftly promo'ed. The connections to ideology seem to escape all parties, including the Marxists who bit on the hook and never managed to see the key instance of their own critiques.
The history of evolution is a corrupt subject, as one can see. Caveat lector.

5-0 out of 5 stars The trials of an idea
Edward Larson has capped a fine string of publications on evolution with this history. A study of the idea of evolution and consideration of the mechanisms driving it, this book introduces you to the major thinkers and researchers involved. Each chapter focuses on an individual or a concept, explaining the rationales behind the idea and its supporters. Larson's evocative prose style keeps the account moving smoothly, even when disputants over an idea grow disruptive and acrimonious.

Larson opens with consideration of the problem of deep time. With biblical authority decreeing a young earth and the immutability of species, the idea of change over time was deemed impossible, if not heretical. Ironically, the first scholar to open the notion of deep time was one of evolution's "staunchest foes" - Georges Cuvier. This French scientist was an early expert on comparative anatomy, stressing form resulted from functional use of an organ. His studies led him to argue that fossils truly represented extinct species. However, new species didn't evolve from the older ones, he argued, but were the result of an act of subsequent creation. Extinctions were due to some catastrophic event. The idea of species succession, however, introduced the notion of deep time - an Earth older than then supposed.

From Cuvier, Larson logically moves to the ideas of another French scientist, Jean Baptiste Lamarck. Today, Lamarck's ideas are blithely dismissed, but Larson shows the significance of his contributions. Although the paleontological record provided spotty support, Lamarck rejected Cuvier's "fixed species" sequences for a form of continuous change. Thinking that changes to the body would be reflected in later generations, Lamarck developed the thesis of "acquired characteristics". Larson makes clear that Lamarck's ideas, although denounced today, were a needed foundation for Darwin's great insight.

Larson's summary of Darwin's Beagle voyage and development of the concept of evolution by natural selection is clear and succinct. Except for Larson's insistence on calling it "evolutionism", thereby changing a scientific idea into an ideology, it's a fine synopsis. Larson is correct in concentrating on human evolution. No matter what Darwin wrote of pigeons or barnacles, people wanted to know how humans fit into the evolutionary scheme. More than one scientific and social issue depended on that pivotal point.

Larson describes the years of challenge to natural selection and the rise of Mendelian genetics leading the assault. Objectors to natural selection came from more than just the ranks of Christian dogmatists. Lord Kelvin's calculation of the sun's waning heat denied evolution sufficient time to operate. Others argued that breeding species blended traits instead of separating them into new species. Later, the most important student of heredity, Thomas Hunt Morgan, rejected natural selection in favour of a mutation-driven mechanism. The turning point came with J.B.S. Haldane, Sewall Wright and Ronald Fisher's new "biometric" studies in population genetics. The merging of Mendelian genetics with Darwin's natural selection is now known as the "new synthesis" or "neo-Darwinism". That combination has proven the most lasting and meaningful aspect of thought on the idea of evolution. From it, Larson explains, arose E. O. Wilson's innovative concept of sociobiology. The behaviour of social insects offer insight into group interaction and are applicable to human evolutionary history.

There are many books with information on the history of evolution as a concept. Why choose this one over any of them? The main reason is Larson's focus on evolution as an idea. The biological themes are discussed only briefly, keeping Larson free to relate the history of the concept. He describes some of the off-shoots of Darwin's original thesis, such as Gould and Eldredge's "punctuated equilibrium", but cautiously avoids any commitment to any of them. His purpose is relating how the idea came to dominate science. He also portrays its Christian opponents in the United States and how their strategies have been applied in driving education away from science to embrace religious themes, however disguised. As an overview, this book is an outstanding introduction. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada] ... Read more


127. What is Life? : With Mind and Matter and Autobiographical Sketches (Canto)
by Roger Penrose
list price: $18.99
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Asin: 0521427088
Catlog: Book (1992-01-31)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 34022
Average Customer Review: 4.69 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Nobel laureate Erwin Schrödinger's What is Life? is one of the great science classics of the twentieth century. A distinguished physicist's exploration of the question which lies at the heart of biology, it was written for the layman, but proved one of the spurs to the birth of molecular biology and the subsequent discovery of the structure of DNA. The philosopher Karl Popper hailed it as a 'beautiful and important book' by 'a great man to whom I owe a personal debt for many exciting discussions'. It appears here together with Mind and Matter, his essay investigating a relationship which has eluded and puzzled philosophers since the earliest times. Schrodinger asks what place consciousness occupies in the evolution of life, and what part the state of development of the human mind plays in moral questions. Brought together with these two classics are Schrödinger's autobiographical sketches, published and translated here for the first time. They offer a fascinating fragmentary account of his life as a background to his scientific writings, making this volume a valuable additon to the shelves of scientist and layman alike. ... Read more

Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Classic
What is Life? is an absolute classic. Schrodinger felt that life must be explainable by physics and chemistry, yet seemed to violate the normal behavior of entropy-- and he understood further that this was a remarkable wedge point to explore. He figured out the explanation: life is the result of evolution of genetic information, which selects for complex processes that by ordinary considerations would be very unlikely. He predicted that there must be a molecule capable of carrying the genetic information (incorrectly thinking it would be a protein.) His beautifully-written book was influential and timely. Within 4 years, Von Neumann elucidated the mechanisms involved in self-reproducing automata (illustrating his abstract discussion with a picture looking remarkably like DNA to the eyes of readers today); and within a decade, Watson and Crick grasped the structure of DNA. You should not read Schrodinger's book today as one of your first sources to understand life-- there has been remarkable progress in the 50 years since Watson and Crick-- but you should read it to gain appreciation for how science can be advanced when the time is ready and a wedge point, an apparent conflict between fundamental ideas, is analyzed.

The volume also includes another lecture by Schrodinger, Mind and Matter, which is historically interesting in another way. In Schrodinger's day, the state of understanding had not advanced to the point where it was possible to make as useful conjectures about the structure of mind as of life, and he accordingly felt "[mind] may well be beyond human understanding."

Readers interested in Schrodinger's book will also enjoy What is Thought?, published 2004. What is Thought? argues that mind must be explainable by computer science, that the fundamental issues are computational, and that there is again a wedge point: the question of how the workings of a computer, which are always purely syntactical, can correspond to meaning and understanding. The situation is parallel to the one that faced Schrodinger with respect to life in two respects: first, mind is the outcome of evolution, which has built thought processes that seem inconsistent with our standard science, and second, scientific research has advanced to the point where, if we focus on the wedge point, significant understanding is obtainable. What is Thought? brings to bear on the problem of mind core ideas from computational learning theory, complexity theory, and evolutionary computing, as well as molecular and evolutionary biology, cognitive science, and other areas. The result is a principled and concrete explanation, consistent with the vast array of available data, of how meaning, understanding, language, consciousness, and all the various aspects of mind arise from execution of an evolved computer program.

4-0 out of 5 stars Scaled up quantum theory that tries...
...and almost succeeds in uniting the dissimilar worlds of Biochemistry/cellular mechanics with the subatomic and atomic worlds. Undoubtedly if this book (series of essays/thoughts/lectures) had been written twenty years later, it would be quite different, but as is, it makes some startlingly accurate predictions about the nature of heredity in biological systems. This book is NOT 'quantum mechanics explains life', it is however, the masterwork of one of quantum theories brightest stars, relating the abstract world of subatomic particles to, well, DNA, before anyone knew what it did. Alas, for poor Schrodinger, probabalistic interpretation is much less useful at such a macroscopic level, and the mathematics behind even 'good approximations' of VERY SMALL macromolecules are nearly infinitely more complex than those for, say helium, which cannot be solved exactly (too many variables) itself. But he knew that already, and shows it here. But regardless of any 'after-the-fact' criticism, Schrodinger built something palpable and incredible out of scaling and deduction from the quantum level up. The fact that he struck so close to the mark speaks volumes for the man and for quantum theory in general. Biology is rather more difficult to quantify with wave equations than an alpha particle...not that Schrodinger attempts such an undertaking here, but the point should be understood as pertaining to his background, at least. At any rate, this book is probably not the most pedestrian work one could find on the subject, nor the easiest read. It is however, some awfully foresighted ideas about nature, and is heartily recomended reading for anyone with an in-depth knowledge of biology and chemistry (quantum chemistry/physics would be a good *background* course here), and should be required reading for any molecular biology/biochemistry regimen. This book deserves five stars, and if it wasn't for that article in the late fifties that used quantum tunneling theory to dispute the fact that DNA could be the genetic material of the cell, (not authored by Schrodinger, but using an extension of his ideas, as in most quantum computation) it would have gotten them. Barring that, this is, to my knowledge, the best book about life ever written by a physicist, and contains philosophical insight befitting the greatest sages and philosophers. Or Dr. Schrodinger.

5-0 out of 5 stars It's all there, before the elucidation of DNA via x-rays
This beautiful little book was based on a sequence of popular lectures given in Dublin during WWII, and in turn on an earlier paper given in Vienna. In the book Schrödinger coins the idea of a genetic code carried by linear molecules with his phrase 'code-script'. He asks how, in the absence of validity of a large n limit required by statistical physics for the validity of any macroscopic biological laws, can the chromsome molecules that carry the code-script yield stable genetic rules. Then, he gives the answer: chemical bonding as predicted by quantum theory ala Heitler-London (Schrödinger identifies quantum jumps in the chrosomes as the origin of mutations, which are also discrete). He refers to the chromosome fibers as linear 'aperiodic crystals' (to emphase their stability in the face of thermal fluctuations) and encourages physicists to study them: he boldly asserts that both the instructions and mechanism for generating organisms via molecular replication are contained in the chromosome molecules (and there is where the "complexity" lies). This book encouraged physicists to study problems of complexity long before the term complexity had become the catchword that it is today. Indeed, our first ideas of 'complexity' were developed parallel in the same era by Turing and von Neumann.

Schrödinger is buried in Alpbach (Tirol), where he lectured and enjoyed the Alps frequently after WWII in a school organized by one of two brothers who, according to a very well-informed source, formed nearly the only Resistance in Austria during the war. On his grave is a pretty little plaque bearing the Schrödinger equation.

This review refers to the 1969 edition of 'What is Life'.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Negative Entropy"
Strange that the only thing biologists see in this book is Schroedinger's vague prediction of DNA. I honestly can't find this anywhere in the book, and believe it's the result of people simply attaching Schroedinger's name to the title without reading it.

Even stranger is that biologists are unable to see how powerful and simple Schroedinger's call for a fundamentally new type of statistical mechanics is. Current stat mech predicts the diffusion of order; yet the overwhelming observation of biology is that systems of fantastic order arise of their own, all the time. Therefore, a new branch of physics, mathematics, and biology will need to arise to predict systems of 'negative entropy'. And it is; Prigogne was the first to classify entropy producers, and the subject is growing.

*This* is the important, clear prediction of Schroedinger's classic book. He was so far ahead of his times, modern biology has yet to catch up.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not leading edge, but a highly readable classic.
It is not surprising that a genius would have interesting things to say. Physicist Erwin Schrodinger was an affable genius whose comments about life, molecular biology, mind, qualia, and a number of topics are interesting and relevant even today.

This edition of 'What is Life?' by Cambridge University Press also contains Schrodinger's essay entitled 'Mind and Matter,' along with some autobiographical notes. What is Life? is a well paced 1944 version of molecular genetics that is still valid today. Crick and Watson didn't discover the structure of DNA til 1953, so Schrodinger didn't know of replisomes and error correcting polymerase III, but this essay shows how well developed molecular biology was by this time. Crick and Watson were certainly in the right place at the right time by clearing up a minor bottleneck in the broader science of molecular genetics. Mainly what Schrodinger, the formulator of the quantum mechanical wave equation of atoms, wants to accomplish is to reconcile quantum effects with biology. What is Life? makes an excellent synthesis of quantum physics and biology. Where modern scientists like physicist Roger Penrose and chemist Graham Cairns-Smith fail at this correlation Schrodinger is eminently successful. Although this essay is somewhat dated it is stimulating and rewarding to read.

The second essay entitled 'Mind and Matter' written in 1956 is very similar to modern efforts in describing abstract neuro and cognitive science. It tackles many of the same topics as moderns Daniel Dennett, Gerald Edelman, and Antonio Damasio do. Schrodinger artfully blends the idealism of Schopenhauer with his own personal physicist's point of view and crafts a perfectly enjoyable, reflective discussion on the concept of mind. I actually enjoyed Mind and Matter more than What is Life? as it showed the intellectual range of Schrodinger better. His discussion of what he calls objectivation, or how the subjective and objective dynamics of the scientific observer influence one another was great.

Lastly, a brief selection of Schrodinger's writing about his own life rounds out this brief, thoughtful collection of essays by a world class scientist. This relaxing little book still exhibits the ability to invoke serious thought about the nature of life and the implications of consciousness. ... Read more


128. Discovering Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics
by A. Malcolm Campbell, Laurie J. Heyer
list price: $81.00
our price: $81.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805347224
Catlog: Book (2002-09-13)
Publisher: Benjamin Cummings
Sales Rank: 77077
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Discovering Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics combines integrated Web exercises with a problem-solving approach to train readers in basic hands-on genomic analysis. The authors present global problems, then provide the tools of genomic analysis to help readers dissect the answer, thus encouraging critical thinking skills. Short boxed readings called "Math Minutes" explain the math behind the biology.For anyone interested in genomics, proteomics, or bioinformatics. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars A novel approach!
Abstract: great and innovative book. I have seen many books, but none like this. It is still concise in this first edition, yet could become the "Lewin" of genomics.
Score: 9/10.

Recommended to students: yes, together with classic works like Brown.

Recommended to Central Library: yes.

1. The supplied CD-ROM is a nice teaching aid. Yet, it is difficult to "extract" pictures from it for teaching purposes. It would be much more useful if the pictures were individually supplied in standard high-quality graphic formats like TIFF, instead of PDF. The later is perfect for distributing text with pictures, but not to retrieve such pictures. Other publishers distribute the book artwork as individual TIFF files. That approach greatly enhances the book and boost sales. This is particularly useful for teachers. Actually, it is a must for us these days. Please, make sure that future versions of the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM are --as this one-- compatible with the open-source Unix-based Mac OS X platform. Thanks.

2. The associated web page "Instructor's Guide"3. The discovering questions are terrific. Please, expand them in future versions.

4. Math minutes are an excellent idea.

5. Boxes are welcome. Please, include more.

6. Also helpful are the boldface words on each chapter. Perhaps they could be also included in a keywords at the beginning of each chapter.

7. The index should be more comprehensive and should have all main entries in boldface. This is important to any index and very few books have it right.

8. The glossary is helpful. It should be more comprehensive,
including more terms.

9. The summaries and conclusions are great, yet should be expanded to include more relevant information. They should be like a "minichapter" an the end of each chapter or --better-- at the beginning. All partial summaries could be pooled into a larger summary that way.

10. Addendum sections could be included as separate notes or boxes.

11. The pronunciation tips for new words are also an excellent idea; mostly for non-English speakers.

12. The classified references are really useful. Well done. If they were commented or "annotated" they would be just perfect.

13. A list of abbreviations would be welcome. A list sorted by the full name would be very handy as well.

14. What about telomerase and aging? What about the fact that
unicellular organisms are immortal? Or stem cells? Or tumor cells? Death is a tax that multicellular organisms have to pay to nature in order to evolve. Yet we humans might change that soon.

15. It should be clearly indicated the organisms with genomes made of dsDNA, ssDNA, dsRNA and ssRNA.

16. Missing bioinformatics tools and step-by-step analysis of genes and mRNA (see next) and whole genomes.

17. It would be really helpful to explain clearly and analyze --even from a bioinformatics point of view-- the structure of genes, mRNA, CDS, introns, exons, promoters and terminators. It is not clear where do these elements start or end or how to recognize them. Diagrams and graphs would greatly help to explain these absolutely basic and fundamental concepts. In other words, imagine that you have cloned and sequenced a genomic gene as well as a full mRNA (cDNA). Now you want to publish your results and for that you do a comprehensive description of your gene (chromosome) and cDNA (mRNA). That is precisely the kind of information that is missing as a diagram and explanation. In this way, it should be indicated that you may encounter several ATG (or other) starting coding triplets in the mRNA, that if the 20 or so amino acid residues of the 5'-end of a peptide have a high percentage of hydrophobic residues, they are likely part of a leading peptide which would be further excised, that you may encounter several polyadenylation signals, etc. On the genome side, the promoter and terminator structures should be analyzed, as well as the intron-exon boundaries.

18. Likewise, it should be indicated the tools and current
possibilities to determine or predict the 3D structure of a protein (folding) from the primary structure of the peptide.

19. Does not mention Lasergene package of DNAStar20. Which genes are best to draw dendrograms? Differentiation between genes from the nucleus or organelles (mitochondrion or chloroplast). Likewise for DNA fingerprinting and molecular markers.

21. Differential display methodologies are missing (as well as other methodologies of gene expression like subtractive hybridization).

22. Large-scale sequencing is missing. For instance, sequencing of single-molecules will allow the sequencing of whole chromosomes or genomes.

23. Missing tables comparing different genomes with full details
(size, ploidy, percentage of genes, introns, exons, repetitive DNA, junk DNA, etc).

24. Reference to manufacturers is very useful. Please, include also links to web sites. Best if all manufacturers are included as an appendix.

25. All web sites (NCBI, etc) and web-based applications (BLAST, ORF Finder, etc) should be clearly indicted in an appendix.

26. It is not indicated that the PCR was in fact described with full details by Khorana et al 14 years before Mullis et al.

27. Please, include more drawings and pictures in the printed book and CD-ROM.

28. Suggestion: including chapters on eukaryotic-genomic DNA
libraries, cDNA libraries, subtractive libraries.

29. Suggestion: including chapters on plant and animal transformation.

30. Suggestion: including drawing of Maxam-Gilbert sequencing method and Sanger method (Applied Biosystems electropherograms,
electrofluorograms).

31. Prions, viroids and viruses could be also included.

32. A title index at the beginning of each chapter would be very
useful. Besides the goals for chapter, which are quite useful.

33. Bioinformatics could be significantly expanded.

34. QuickTime videos explaining some topics would be fantastic.
Please, make them in QuickTime (best quality, platform-independent).

35. All in all, a great novel approach. Keep up the great work! ... Read more


129. Game Theory: A Nontechnical Introduction
by Morton D. Davis
list price: $9.95
our price: $8.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0486296725
Catlog: Book (1997-07-01)
Publisher: Dover Publications
Sales Rank: 20470
Average Customer Review: 3.89 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Fascinating, accessible introduction to enormously important intellectual system with numerous applications to social, economic, political problems. Newly revised edition offers overview of game theory, then lucid coverage of the two-person zero-sum game with equilibrium points; the general, two-person zero-sum game; utility theory; other topics. Problems at start of each chapter. Foreword to First Edition by Oskar Morgenstern. Bibliography.
... Read more

Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars A must for beginner
This is an extremely well written book. It strikes a good balance between a mere book of giving skin deep introductory knowledge of game theory, and a book with too much technical stuff (esp. mathematical proof). The author made a good job almost like Stephen Hawking and Richard Feyman to explain difficult thing with an easy and friendly way. What's more, the author included also many varies paradoxes, theroms from many great leaders in the game theory's field. In beginning of each chapter, the author listed some questions for the reader to think about, before moving forward. I must say this is a very good book for those who are not very sophisticated and advance in mathematics, or as a very first entry for anyone who wants to pursuit and learn game theory.

4-0 out of 5 stars An easy to understand introduction to game theory
I found this book at a used book store and while I generally need little prodding to purchase a math book, in this case a quick glance through the first few pages convinced me to purchase it. Although human emotions are powerful forces in our lives, many of our decisions are still made based on rational thought and perceived benefit. This is the realm of game theory, which is an analysis of decision-making based on the interpretation of rewards and punishment.
The first games examined in this book are the standard ones of two-person zero-sum games, first with and then without equilibrium points. A two-person zero-sum game is one where the winnings of one player must match the losses of the other. In other words, the sum total of value held by the two players is a constant. This is followed by an examination of utility theory, which is a determination of the true value of the rewards and punishments. It is here where emotions and personal preference are the strongest. Something as simple as bragging rights can often have more value than large monetary payments. The next chapter deals with two-person non-zero-sum games, where the total value held by the two players is not a constant. The last chapter deals with n-person games, which are difficult to analyze, but are the most interesting because they are closest to life. Success in n-person games almost always requires the formation of a cooperative, in the sense that there is the potential for a coalition that can dominate everyone else.
What I enjoyed the most about this book was the examples and the problems. At the start of the chapters, there is a set of questions that introduce the material, and they are answered at the end of the chapter. In between, the explanations are clear, with a minimum of formulas. I also enjoyed the sections on the various "games" of voting, such as how does a body of legislators decides how to fund projects when each has their pet project that they want to acquire the funding for. It explains some of the labyrinthine features of the congressional process and why it is possible for a deadlock state to develop.
This is one of the best general introductions to game theory that I have seen, the worked problems take you through the features of the games in a step-by-step manner that is very easy to understand.

Published in the recreational mathematics e-mail newsletter, reprinted with permission.

3-0 out of 5 stars Recreational Read
There seems to be a whole cottage industry of books on Game Theory. Not many of them are non-technical, and this is probably the shortest of them. So this is a plus to those with no background and who may not go any further. This book suffers from being slightly out of date.

Game Theory is a subfield not of mathematics but of economics. This despite the fact that one of the greatest mathematicians, Von Neumann, had invented this and that at the advanced level it demands a good deal of higher math. This is a reason why John Nash won the Nobel for economics - and not a Fields Medal (for mathematics).

I think it's dangerous to make life-and-death decisions based on Game Theory. First, it's hardly a real science, only the application of mathematics to social questions. Second, you can easily make an error in your calculations.

This brings to mind Franklin's moral algebra. He advised a friend (Priestly, I think) on how to make intelligent decisions: by dividing the pros and cons into two columns, then giving a value to each in terms of importance (1-10, for example), adding up both columns and comparing the two sums. The larger sum should be the decision. And then he cautioned that real decisions are not necessarily made in this scientific way, although the exercise really sharpens your thinking. At a minimum it forces you to think of all possible pros and cons of a problem. In the end, though, one big pro/con (or two) may decide the matter. And even then, you can't be sure you've made the right decision because maybe you've forgotten something in the arithmetic. Still this is a rational way to think something through, especially on major questions.

The utility of Game Theory is likely to be much less than Franklin's scheme because PEOPLE IN THE REAL WORLD DON'T BOTHER USING IT. Would Roosevelt and Truman have done much better when dealing with Stalin if they had been acquainted with Game Theory? I doubt it, although Game Theory impressed some of the geeks in the Pentagon. (Nor vice versa. Stalin would have just laughed if somebody had tried to "sell" him this academic exercise. He relied on his own judgment.) To this day I have yet to hear that Game Theory is the secret of success of top managers like Jack Welch, Warren Buffett and Sandy Weill.

This book is a good intro to the field and teaches you the basic vocab specialists use. Read it like a book on recreational brainteasers, and you'll have lots of fun. I know I did.

4-0 out of 5 stars Recreational Read
Game Theory is worth a second look, a Nobel Prize having been awarded in 1994 to John Nash, et al. The official Nobel press release specifically cites Von Neumann and Morgenstern as its father. Had both been alive, they might have been the recipients of the prize.

There seems to be a whole cottage industry of books on Game Theory. Not many of them are non-technical, and this is probably the shortest of them. (Another is written by JD Williams: "The Compleat Strategyst" - note the spellings - also from Dover.) So this is a plus to those with no background and who may not go any further. This book suffers from being slightly out of date.

Game Theory is a subfield not of mathematics but of economics. This despite the fact that one of the greatest mathematicians, Von Neumann, had invented this and that at the advanced level it demands a good deal of higher math. This is a reason why John Nash won the Nobel for economics - and not a Fields Medal (for mathematics).

I think it's dangerous to make life-and-death decisions based on Game Theory. First, it's hardly a real science, only the application of mathematics to social questions. Second, you can easily make an error in your calculations.

This brings to mind Franklin's moral algebra. He advised a friend (Priestly, I think) on how to make intelligent decisions: by dividing the pros and cons into two columns, then giving a value to each in terms of importance (1-10, for example), adding up both columns and comparing the two sums. The larger sum should be the decision. And then he cautioned that real decisions are not necessarily made in this scientific way, although the exercise really sharpens your thinking. At a minimum it forces you to think of all possible pros and cons of a problem. In the end, though, one big pro/con (or two) may decide the matter. And even then, you can't be sure you've made the right decision because maybe you've forgotten something in the arithmetic. Still this is a rational way to think something through, especially on major questions.

The utility of Game Theory is likely to much less than Franklin's scheme because PEOPLE IN THE REAL WORLD DON'T BOTHER USING IT. Would Roosevelt and Truman have done much better when dealing with Stalin if they had been acquainted with Game Theory? I doubt it, although Game Theory impressed some of the geeks in the Pentagon. (Nor vice versa. Stalin would have just laughed if somebody had tried to "sell" him this academic exercise. He relied on his own judgment.) To this day I have yet to hear that Game Theory is the secret of success of top managers like Jack Welch, Warren Buffett and Sandy Weill.

Game Theorists themselves disagree on the finer points: Davis in this book points out errors by Anatol Rapoport, for example. This should be enough to give us pause about Game Theory itself.

This book is a good intro to the field and teaches you the basic vocab specialists use. Read it like a book on recreational brainteasers, and you'll have lots of fun. No higher math is required (not even simple algebra) - just a little patience and the motivation to think things through. This is the only low-math intro I know of that covers both 2-person and n-person games of the zero-sum and non-zero-sum varieties in one slim volume.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Introduction to Game Theory
As the name implies, this is a non-technical introduction to a very complex and technical subject. As such, the writer walks a very fine line between making the subject matter understandable to the lay-person and providing scientific support for his arguments. He is able to do this with a mixed level of success.

The first few chapters of the book deal with relatively simple subject matter, two person zero sum games. In these chapters, the author is easily able to explain the concepts and solutions without getting technical. However, as the book progresses, the author grapples with ever more complex problems, such as two person non-zero-sum games and with n-person games. As the problems become more complex, the author's explanations become less well organized and clear. It is obvious that behind the arguments stand solid mathematical reasoning, however since the book tries to avoid mathematics as much as possible, many of the explanations and assumptions remain vague.

Although I was familiar with many of the concepts in the book, this is the first book I have read on game theory. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Although I would have liked to receive more in-depth explanations in many cases, I felt that the book opened a window for me into this fascinating world. I was especially pleased with the many real world examples the author uses to illustrate the wide-ranging applications of game theory. These examples include an application of game theory to the evolution of species; and the use of game theory to determine who holds the power in a political system. More well known concepts, such as the Prisoners' Dilemma, are also comprehensively discussed.

Bottom line, this is a really enjoyable book that covers a very challenging subject. If a non-technical introduction to game theory is what you want, this is the book for you. However, if you are more mathematically inclined or have already read a book or two on the subject, you will probably want to pick up a more advanced book. ... Read more


130. Evolutionary Biology
by Douglas J. Futuyma
list price: $94.95
our price: $92.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0878931899
Catlog: Book (1997-12-01)
Publisher: Sinauer Associates
Sales Rank: 126857
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Previous editions of Evolutionary Biology, widely used and translated into five other languages, were praised for their broad scope, synthetic overview, and even-handed treatment of controversial topics. The Third Edition, while maintaining these features, reflects the ever greater breadth and depth of evolutionary science by providing expanded treatment of many topics and by emphasizing the new intellectual and molecular perspectives that have revolutionized evolutionary studies in the last decade. Equally significant, the book has been made more accessible to student readers by a more expansive style of presentation, by a completely new two-color art program (and a full-color portfolio), and by extended examples that convey not only the evidence for hypotheses, but also the ways in which evolutionary hypotheses are framed and tested. After introducing the historical, ecological, and genetic foundations of evolutionary study, the text progresses from the history of evolution as inferred from phylogeny and paleobiology, through the genetic mechanisms of evolutionary change and speciation, to the large, challenging themes of macroevolution, the evolution of diversity, and human evolution. Topics that were treated only sparingly in previous editionsóform and function, coevolution, the evolution of life histories, the evolution of behavior, and the evolution of genetic systemsónow receive full-chapter coverage. Abundant cross-referencing emphasizes the unity and coherence of evolutionary biology, highlighted text and a glossary provide easy access to definitions of technical terms, and an extensive bibliography provides interested readers with an entry into most of the topics embraced by evolutionary biology. Reflecting its theme that evolution both draws on and illuminates all the biological sciences, Evolutionary Biologyis the most comprehensive textbook in its field. ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars the best organized, most comprehensive text available
I have been using Futuyma's Evolutionary Biology in various editions since 1983, when it was my undergraduate evolution textbook. Nowadays, I'm the professor. In my opinion, the 3rd edition is simply the best textbook for a college evolution course there is. It is organized in a logical manner, emphasizing conceptual issues and not marching up the geological timescale or across the phyla, or getting bogged down in lengthy case studies. I have considered other texts, including Ridley, Freeman and Herron, and Strickberger, each of which has some unique qualities, but Futuyma's book is scholarly, thoughtfully assembled, and provides as comprehensive a coverage of micro- and macroevolutionary ideas as is possible in a 700 page book.

The book could have more color pictures, and the coverage of systematics could be a bit more substantial (but as it is it is superior to alternatives).

5-0 out of 5 stars Easy but profound
This is certainly a must have book! First because it is extremely enjoyable and covers lots of topics. You can read for fun, but you can also work on it. In evolutionary biology I often see books that present the authors' personal view on the subject, many of them discussible and lacking of experimental support. I think that Futuyma is extremely careful and tries to be neutral, which makes this book a reference book on the topic, as it is rather safe.

5-0 out of 5 stars Real Evolution
As a teacher and an Evolutionary Biologist, it's disappointing that there aren't many textbooks or scholarly works, particularly in the field of evolution, that are both accessible and scientifically rigorous. Doug Futuyma has done an excellent job of making this work both.

Textbooks are unfortunately often written by professionals who seem more interested in impressing their colleagues with the elegance of their explanations than in presenting their material in an easy-to-understand way for students. What we teachers usually end up with in those cases are texts that make our job more difficult, forcing us to re-explain material that students have already paid lots of money to read. This book does a good job of keeping that to a minimum.

This is not an easy task with a subject like evolution. First, evolution is not simply "survival of the fittest". In fact, it's hardly that at all. It is vastly more complex; it is a very elegant process by which much of the complexity of our universe, particularly living systems, came to be.

Second, evolution has been so misunderstood, and misrepresented, both intentionally and unintentionally, for so long, that it is often difficult for the uninitiated to understand what biologists really mean when we talk about it. This is becoming even more of a problem as other fields of study, particularly the Social Sciences, see it's utility and begin using it without always understanding it completely. The result of all this is that the common view of evolution bears little, if any, resemblance to the scientific theory.

I used an earlier edition of this book in my first undergraduate class in the subject, and today as a professional Evolutionary Biologist I still keep it on the shelf over my desk as a reference and teaching aid. I recommend this book to anyone who seriously wants to understand evolution and why all modern biology is built upon this single theory.

5-0 out of 5 stars A textbook even a layman can love
I'm not a biologist, or even studying biology, but I needed to find a good introduction to evolutionary biology. This textbook was recommended to me by several biologists, and I've found it to be both chock-full of information and engagingly written. Even a layman such as myself, with only a modest scientific background and whose last biology course was way back in high school, could pick this textbook up and follow along. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to know what biologists mean when they talk about evolution.

5-0 out of 5 stars It's just the best book in evolutionary biology
The full boo ... Read more


131. The Voyage of the Beagle: Charles Darwin's Journal of Researches (Penguin Classics)
by Charles Darwin, Janet Browne, Michael Neve
list price: $13.00
our price: $9.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 014043268X
Catlog: Book (1989-10-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 8075
Average Customer Review: 4.18 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars A must for science and history lovers!
This is an under-rated read. It is the story of Charles Darwins 5 year journey on the Royal Navy ship, HMS Beagle. If ever there was a fateful voyage, this is it. But of course in this case, it is a 'fate' of hope, joy and true discovery.

The writer, in case you don't know him, is an enthusiastic and slightly rebellious young British naturalist, Charles Darwin. Here he reveals a style of cool-headed prose, sombre reflection, humour, and scientific enthusiasm. Amongst other things he describes his traverses in the Andes mountains, his jaunting about the Galopagas Islands, and his reflections of the bristling new British colony of Sydney. He collects specimens at places as diverse as the open sea, the remote Australian coast, and various islands of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. One particularly interesting piece describes his experience of a major earthquake on the Chilian coast, with details of totally destroyed coastal townships, and a major tidal wave. Of course he doesn't miss the correlation of the earthquake and a rather significant mountain chain running down the length of the Chilian coastline.

A good insight into the thoughts and style of the man, 19th century scientific prose, as well as the world itself in that interesting period of human history-the early to mid 19th century. This edition incidentally is also the unabridged one, which serves the reader better than some others.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great classic of science.
From 1831 to 1836 Charles Darwin, then a young man in his twenties, was the official naturalist on the Royal Navy ship HMS Beagle. The Beagle spent five years completing a survey of the coasts of South America and making a series of longitude measurements around the world. This proved to be one of the most important scientific voyages of the 19th century, for it was on this voyage that Darwin made the observations that lead, twenty years later, to his formulating the theory of evolution by means of natural selection. This book is Darwin's account of his observations on this voyage. Darwin was a master of detailed observation, and he describes the things he observed -- the plants, animals, geology, and people -- in loving detail. His accounts are always lively and full of interest. Darwin was also a master of inductive reasoning, and there are several superb examples of this in this book. Perhaps the finest is Darwin's induction of the cause of the formation of the coral atolls that dot the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean (his theory was proved correct in the 20th century). Indeed, much of the value of this book for the modern reader lies in the many examples it contains of scientific, inductive thought; a powerful method of reasoning that is as neglected today as it was in Darwin's time.

1-0 out of 5 stars Penguin Version is abridged, with no warning on the cover
The 1 star is for Penguin, because the cover does not warn you that the content has been sharply abridged. Darwin's thinking and writing are wonderful -- but grossly and unfairly cut to ribbons.

5-0 out of 5 stars Darwin's best
Forget the image of the grim, ancient, grey-bearded savant. By the time those pictures were taken Darwin was long past his energetic prime. BEAGLE catches him literally starting out on his life-long voyage of discovery at a time when he was still extremely physically active and just beginning to come to grips with the seriousness of his interest in Natural History. Later in life he said that the VOYAGE was his personal favorite of all his writings, and one can see why. Darwin set off young, energetic, but frankly naieve & a little foolish (his father ahd written to him at Cambridge saying that he feared that he would never amount to much, and apart from his work with Henslow, much of his college career seems to have been devoted to what we would now call "partying hearty") He returned a seasoned naturalist and explorer, with the germ of his Great Idea firmly implanted. While in many ways VOYAGE is describing a vanished world, Darwin's keen eye for detail renders each landscape with such clarity that one feels that one is really along for the trip -and, thank goodness, some of the places he went to are still there for us to go & wonder at. There is no Big Theory here, just an enormous sense of wonder and excitement, with little of the periodic homesickness that shows up in the letters that he was writing during the voyage. Perhaps most intriguing is the remarkably SHORT section on the Galapagos -I remember thinking the first time that I read the VOYAGE "Wait, but wasn't the Galapagos THE Big Deal?" No, not to read it here in the original. One gets the sense that many of Darwins fundamental beliefs were already in gestation long before he left the coast of South America & by the time he gets to the Galapagos, he is increasingly anxious to be home & working it all out. Make sure that you get a COMPLETE version of the Voyage, there are many editions (including abbridgements) out there.

1-0 out of 5 stars Caution, this is an abridgement.
I bought this version when I could not find my old copy. On trying to find a favorite passage (Darwin's revulsion at a parasitic wasp in Brazil and the inconsistency of such cruelty with any providential design of nature by a good God), I noticed that it was not there. I do not know what else is missing. I find it infuriating that this was not adequately noted on the cover of the book. I always prefer books as the author wrote them, especially when the author is Darwin. This is a lively, beautiful and haunting work that I first read when I was thirteen and have read twice since. Readers deserve the whole thing. ... Read more


132. The Complete World of Human Evolution
by Chris Stringer, Peter Andrews
list price: $39.95
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Asin: 0500051321
Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Sales Rank: 22822
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Book Description

A compelling, authoritative, and superbly illustrated account of the rise and eventual domination of our species.

Human domination of the earth is now so complete that it is easy to forget how recently our role in the history of the planet began: the earliest apes evolved around twenty million years ago, yet Homo sapiens has existed for a mere 150,000 years. In the intervening period, many species of early ape and human have lived and died out, leaving behind the fossilized remains that have helped to make the detailed picture of our evolution revealed here.

This exciting, up-to-the-minute account is divided into three accessible sections. "In Search of Our Ancestors" examines the contexts in which fossilized remains have been found and the techniques used to study them. "The Fossil Evidence" traces in detail the evolution of apes and humans, from Proconsul to the australopithecines, and Homo erectus to the Neanderthals and Homo sapiens. The latest fossil finds at major new sites such as Dmanisi in Georgia and Gran Dolina in Spain are appraised, and new advances in genetic studies, including the extraction of DNA from extinct human species, are evaluated. "Interpreting the Evidence" reconstructs and explains the evolution of human behavior, describing the development of tool use, the flourishing of the earliest artists, and the spread of modern humans to all corners of the world.

The book is superbly illustrated with hundreds of photographs, diagrams, and specially commissioned reconstruction drawings by the artist John Sibbick. 430 illustrations, 175 in color. ... Read more


133. The Correspondence of Charles Darwin: Volume 7, 1858-1859 (The Correspondence of Charles Darwin)
by Charles Darwin
list price: $100.00
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Asin: 0521385644
Catlog: Book (1992-01-30)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 701082
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Book Description

The seventh volume of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin covers two of the most momentous years in Darwin's life and in the history of science. Begun in 1856, Darwin's big book on species, later published as Natural Selection (Cambridge University Press, 1974) was a little more than half finished when Darwin unexpectedly received a letter and a manuscript from Alfred Russel Wallace indicating that he too had independently formulated a theory of natural selection. In a letter to his friend, Charles Lyell, Darwin wrote, "So all my originality, whatever it may amount to, will be smashed." On the Origin of Species was an abstract of the larger manuscript and was published in 1859.All the extant correspondence surrounding Darwin's receipt of Wallace's letter and the eventual publication of the abstract of Darwin's theory a year later is gathered in this volume. The letters detail the stages in the preparation of what was to become one of the world's most famous works, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. They reveal the first impressions of Darwin's book given by his confidants; including Joseph Dalton Hooker, Thomas Henry Huxley, and Asa Gray.Finally, the letters relate Darwin's anxious response to the early reception of this theory by friends, family members, and prominent naturalists. This volume provides the key to understanding Darwin's remarkable efforts for more than two decades to solve one of nature's greatest riddles--the origin of species.This volume also contains a supplement (1821-1857) of letters which have been located or redated since publication of Volumes One to Six of the Correspondence.Many of these letters appear in print for the first time and provide an interesting and important complement to the correspondence published to date. ... Read more


134. Beyond Culture
by EDWARD T. HALL
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
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Asin: 0385124740
Catlog: Book (1977-01-07)
Publisher: Anchor
Sales Rank: 72409
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars A must-read for "Diversity in the Workplace"
Since other reviewers have summarized this book, my suggestion is to read it with present-day work environments in mind. There is an increasing emphasis of Diversity and Globalization in the workplace. This book can be difficult to wade through, but the concepts stick with you. It was very easy to take the concepts and compare them to the daily situations of working in a multi-cultural corporate environment. Sometimes the best information, is from an original source or work. I would suggest reading this, just because Hall's premises still bear the brunt of time and provide that "ah-ha" awareness to an experience.

5-0 out of 5 stars UNDERSTANDING OUR WORLD
THIS IS THE SECOND TIME I HAVE READ THE BOOK. THE LAST TIME WAS A 110 YEARS AGO IN COLLEGE. MR. HALL MAKES US THINK ABOUT OTHER CULTURES AND ESPECIALLY OUR OWN CULTURE. IN THESE AWFUL TIMES IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER. MR HALL'S BOOKS HELP WITH THIS. IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND A CULTURE'S LANGUAGE AND DRESS. TIME, SPACE, AND OTHER CONTINGENTS ARE JUST OR MORE IMPORTANT.

5-0 out of 5 stars Chapter 1: Education doesn't necessarily mean Learning
I read this book for the first time over 20 years ago after I graduated from college with an unrelated science major which I found loathesome and never used. I had already read "The Hidden Dimension" when working with an architect. I am not about to read this one again due to its complexity and the fact it "sunk in" then. Here are some of Hall's highlights:

Ch. 1 (The Paradox of Culture): "One wonders how many individuals who have been forced to adjust to eight-hour, nine-to-five schedules have sacrificed their creativity, and what the social and human cost of this sacrifice has been."

Ch. 3 (Consistency and Life): "He is forced into the position of thinking and feeling that anyone whose behavior is not predictable or is peculiar in any way is slightly out of his mind, improperly brought up, irresponsible, psychopathic, politically motivated to a point beyond all redemption, or just plain inferior."

Ch. 7 (Contexts, High and Low): "... in high context systems, people in places of authority are personally and truly (not just in theory) responsible for the actions of subordinates down to the lowest man. In low context systems, responsibility is diffused throughout the system and difficult to pin down ..."

Ch. 11 (Covert Culture and Action Chains): "The investigation of out-of-awareness culture can be accomplished only by actual observation of real events in normal settings and contexts. ... Culture is therefore very closely related to if not synonymous with what has been defined as "mind".

Ch. 12 (Imagery and Memory): "Our problems in education are exacerbated by eductional systems and philosophies that stress verbal facility at the expense of other important parts of man's mind ..."

Ch. 13 (Cultural and Primate Bases of Education): "One reason psychotherapy is so slow is that in order to change one thing it is necessary to alter the entire psyche, because the different parts of the psyche are functionally interrelated."

Ch. 13: Over bureaucratization: "The problem with bureaucracies is that they have to work hard and long to keep from substituting self-serving survival and growth for their original primary objective. ... Bureaucracies have no soul, no memory and no conscience."

Ch. 14 (Culture as an Irrational Force): "Since the men and women responsible for these [anthropological] studies for the most part are both well trained in Anglo-American social science methodology and well motivated, one can only assume that there is something basically wrong with the way in which social science research is often conducted."

5-0 out of 5 stars Should be required reading for everyone
It's amazing to me that the (brilliantly simple) ideas found in this book aren't more a part of public consciousness and discussion, especially 25 years after its publication. These aren't high-flying concepts. They're experimentally proven and frighteningly basic revelations about how humans function, and the fact that they were never a part of my curriculum in one of the best prep schools in the country and then a top Ivy League school simply drives home Hall's point about the state of academia. My only complaint is that the book jumps around quickly and doesn't always spend as much time as I'd like on particular threads. It also isn't particularly actionable, but given its conclusions this is not surprising. I recommend Maps of Meaning by Jordan Peterson for another fascinating look at how the cross-cultural human psyche is configured. It's a powerful counterpoint to the fashionable but vacuous idea that everything in culture is an arbitrary construct, unconnected to millions of years of evolution of the human organism.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and inciteful book, and an exciting read
This is a brilliant book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading more of Hall.

Hall was one of the influences on Robert Moran, a professor who teaches Cross-Cultural Communications at the American Graduate School of International Management (see his book "Managing Cultural Differences"). Although Moran and his co-authors draw on dozens of sources, somehow Hall and his concept of Low-Context and High-Context cultures made a big impression on me in Moran's class. My only regret is having waited so long to actually read this classic.

Hall introduces the concept of context as an human behavioral influence. A high-context situation is one in which much of the communication is non-verbal or understood because of the shared context. He characterizes societies as being either low-context, which are typical of northern Europe, or high-context, most dramatically represented by Japan. Context even affects language, and human speech patterns will change, depending upon who they are speaking to and the context of the communication.

I also thought that his concept of 'action chains' was perceptive. An AC is a sequence of events in which two or more individuals participate. Shaking hands is a simple chain; becoming engaged is a more complex one. Again, different cultures vary in their emphasis on completing action chains. An American may be very casual about dropping an ongoing chain, which may be very negatively received in other cultures.

His chapter "Culture as an Irrational Force" is full of good common-sense advice on getting along with other people. Hall has provided advice to diplomats and corporate executives, and his book reflects this practical experience. While it delves into theory, his concepts always have a concrete application.

I found his next-to-last chapter, "Culture as an Irrational Force," entertaining, but I had to agree with much of its overt overt political agenda. He has some very strong political opinions on human institutions and the declining state of academia. According to Hall, "Bureacracies have no soul, no memory, and no conscience."

Certainly, anyone interested in cross-cultural communications would benefit from this book. At a time when both America and Europe are dealing with immigration issues, this is also an helpful text to help build an awareness of cultural underpinnings that can otherwise be negatively interpreted, leading to misunderstanding and prejudice. ... Read more


135. Mapping Human History : Genes, Race, and Our Common Origins
by Steve Olson
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
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Asin: 0618352104
Catlog: Book (2003-04-01)
Publisher: Mariner Books
Sales Rank: 19227
Average Customer Review: 3.74 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In a journey across four continents, acclaimed science writer Steve Olson traces the origins of modern humans and the migrations of our ancestors throughout the world over the past 150,000 years. Like Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel, Mapping Human History is a groundbreaking synthesis of science and history. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including the latest genetic research, linguistic evidence, and archaeological findings, Olson reveals the surprising unity among modern humans and "demonstrates just how naive some of our ideas about our human ancestry have been" (Discover).Olson offers a genealogy of all humanity, explaining, for instance, why everyone can claim Julius Caesar and Confucius as forebears. Olson also provides startling new perspectives on the invention of agriculture, the peopling of the Americas, the origins of language, the history of the Jews, and more. An engaging and lucid account, Mapping Human History will forever change how we think about ourselves and our relations with others. ... Read more

Reviews (31)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Rebuttal Against Racism
Olson's "Mapping Human History" is written in a clear, easy to understand style that makes mitochondira, haplotypes and other archana of modern genetics fairly understandable to the lay reader.

Olson explains why most geneticists believe that modern humans, no matter how different they may seem, are biologically very similar. There is no room in this book for theories about how one "race" is somehow better than another--or even for the idea that the term "race" has any meaning at all. Our cultures may have divided us, but our DNA betrays the fact that we are all descended from a small group of modern humans who lived in eastern Africa about 100,000 years ago. There simply hasn't been enough time to make us dramatically different from each other, despite what racists would have us believe.

The theory that modern humans originated in Africa fairly recently and then spread throughout the world is still, of course, hotly debated. A number of reputable scientists favor the multiregional hypothesis, which claims that modern humans evolved in various places around the world from archaic populations already living in those regions. The mutliregional hypothesis implies that the differences between modern groups are deeply rooted in the very distant past. Olson clearly disagrees with that view, and he does a good job of presenting the genetic evidence that points to a more recent African origin (sometimes called the "Out of Africa II" hypothesis).

In the course of doing so, Olson touches on many interesting points. A few of the more striking were these:

First, Olson describes recent DNA research indicating that Neanderthals were in fact a different species from our own. This is another hotly debated proprosition, and I suspect that experts could criticize the DNA analysis that Olson describes on the grounds that it's pretty hard to make sense of 35,000 year old DNA. Still, Olson makes a good case that the new results are compelling and consistent with other evidence.

Second, Olson describes the Jewish tradition that the male descendants of Aaron, the brother of Moses, will be the high priests of the Israelites. Genetic research among the kohanim (priests), who often have a surname like Cohen, Cohn, or Kahn, suggests that many of these persons are in fact descended from a common male ancestor, who may indeed have been Aaron.

Finally, Olson explains why everyone on the planet at this point probably has some genetic material contributed by Julius Caesar and Confucius, among others. It's a small world after all, at least as far as our DNA is concerned.

The only part of the book that I didn't enjoy were the last couple of chapters, which shift from the topic at hand (i.e., "mapping human history") to questions of ethics. While these issues are important, they are too complex to be explored well in the fifty or so pages that Olson alots to them, and the discussion tends to detract from the fascinating "deep history" that is the focus of the rest of the book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Highly Readable
Steve Olson's Mapping Human History is a wonderful account of the journeys of modern man. The author explains all of the science involved in a very understandable and readable way so that all readers can follow this fascinating story. The narrative concerns the migration of man out of Africa and then all around the globe. Language and archeology play a part but this book focuses on the genetic clues to piece together this history which everyone alive today shares. Along the way, he debunks theories of race and any idea of biology as destiny. The author shows that we, modern humans, are all genetically related wherever we have recently hailed from. He does not shy away from the various controversies that swirl around these ideas but tackles them with great skill, particularly in the chapters focusing on the Americas. This is a very informative and entertaining book.

5-0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ FOR THE LAYMAN
FOUND THIS BOOK THE BEST ON THE SUBJECT THAT I HAVE EVER READ! HIGHLY READABLE (NON-TECHNICAL) FOR US "LAYMAN" - WOULD NOT PART WITH MY EDITION AS I WILL BE RE-READING IT FOR SOME TIME TO COME! IF YOU HAVE ANY INTEREST IN THIS SUBJECT I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS THOUGHTFUL, INFORMATIVE, AND OBJECTIVE HISTORY OF THE ORIGINS AND DISTRIBUTION OF "MODERN MANKIND".

5-0 out of 5 stars The story of our race, the human race
It is a fortunate fact of history that wrongful prejudice can scare bear the light of truthful inquiry. Olson provides this truthful inquiry in his search for the origins and migrations of the human race from the African continent of 150,000 years ago to today. For those who have or would claim a "superior race" they find quick and strong rebuke in the fact of a common racial human origin. Today, there are some seven billion people on the planet. Two thousand years ago, that figure was around 200 million. One hundred thousand years ago, that figure was around 10,000. Ten thousand humans lived in Africa 100,000 years ago. We are therefore all litterally extended brothers and sisters. This book is the story of our race told through the unbiased perspective of our mitochondrial DNA. For those straining to recall high school science, our mitochondria are power plants of our cells. In evolutionary prehistory, they merged with regular cells before humans even existed. Because of the nature in how they are passed on, their DNA can be uniquely examined with an eye toward reviewing our maternal history. In this way, the story of our mothers becomes the story of us, taking us all back to same stooped endangered group of humans living in prehistoric Africa. This book is an excellent book to be read in conjunction with other historical studies, anthropological studies or studies on human development. Olson's accessible writing style makes his points easy to grasp and his obvious enthusiasm contagiously makes you want to read on and better understand.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book!
Steve Olson's Mapping Human History is an excellent introduction to historical genetics, and indeed it has been called by the New Scientist as "the most balanced, accessible and up-to-date survey of the field currently available." It is written by a renowned science journalist, not a scientist, who quotes and discusses the leaders in the field in a quite readable and entertaining fashion. The book has apparently offended some people by discounting ancestry (and racist offshoots) in light of the overwhelming evidence against the concept. However its scientific credentials are impeccable. ... Read more


136. The Mathematics of Games and Gambling (New Mathematical Library)
by Edward Packel
list price: $24.95
our price: $24.95
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Asin: 088385628X
Catlog: Book (1996-09-05)
Publisher: The Mathematical Association of America
Sales Rank: 52576
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

You can't lose with this MAA Book Prize winner if you want to see how mathematics can be used to analyze games of chance and skill. Roulette, craps, blackjack, backgammon, poker, bridge, lotteries and horse races are considered here in a way that reveals their mathematical aspects. The tools used include probability, expectation, and game theory. No prerequisites are needed beyond high school algebra. No book can guarantee good luck, but this book will show you what determines the best bet in a game of chance or the optimal strategy in a strategic game.Besides being an excellent supplement to a course on probability and good bed-side reading, this book's treatment of lotteries should save the reader some money. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Will help you win?
This is one of the most entertaining books on the subject of game theory! Highly recommended. Of course, you may not win all the time in any gambling games but if after studying it, you will have a sense of how it works! THat is it!

4-0 out of 5 stars Basic, yet thorough intro to the theory of games of chance
When I was teaching full-time in the '80s, the math topic that students found most interesting was the analysis of gambling. One student in particular had written a program that analyzed the past history of racing greyhounds in an attempt to increase his odds of winning at the dog track. The students were also the most attentive in class when I was working through an analysis of either casino games or the state run lotteries. We held several discussions on various ways to "beat" the games that were suggested by the students or explained in class. I received and answered many questions about the odds of winning in many scenarios, sometimes to the disappointment and disbelief of the person asking the question. From now on, I will direct students with such questions to this book if they find my answers unsatisfactory.
It is a brief, yet thorough analysis of the mathematical foundations of some basic board and casino games. Problems for further testing and study are given at the end of most sections, so it is possible to use it as a textbook in short courses in basic probability theory. The level of difficulty is consistent with that of a beginning course, and the only mathematical prerequisites are the most basic of algebraic operations.
Gambling is an activity that will continue to be a part of the human experience as long as humans have their present form. To many, it is an activity of addiction, to others one of recreation and to mathematicians it can be both. I fall in the latter category, as I often point out to people how their opinions about the possibility of success are exactly what the gambling companies want them to be. This book is an excellent description of how the games work and how billions are made by being on the right side of slightly favorable odds. ... Read more


137. Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications
by RickiLewis
list price: $98.43
our price: $98.43
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Asin: 007246268X
Catlog: Book (2002-06-17)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Science/Engineering/Math
Sales Rank: 73392
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Human Genetics, 5/e is a non-science majors human genetics text that clearly explains what genes are, how they function, how they interact with the environment, and how our understanding of genetics has changed since completion of the human genome project. It is a clear, modern, and exciting book for citizens who will be responsible for evaluating new medical options, new foods, and new technologies in the age of genomics. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Decent..........
This is a good book, but the topic is so enormous that the book is too broad and should be more specific. The book is an overview of so many areas and it doesn't go into much detail. A excellent book for someone who is illiterate in human genetics like an undergraduate.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview of the subject.
Very good read. Thorough discussion of underlying science and technology trends. Call me if you want more info : 510-664-3016. Peter Thottam. genesisla@aol.com. ... Read more


138. The Meme Machine
by Susan Blackmore, Richard Dawkins
list price: $15.95
our price: $10.85
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Asin: 019286212X
Catlog: Book (2000-05-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 51541
Average Customer Review: 3.69 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

What is a meme? First coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 study The Selfish Gene, a meme is any idea, behavior, or skill that can be transferred from one person to another by imitation: stories, fashions, inventions, recipes, songs, and ways of plowing a field, throwing a baseball, or making a sculpture. It is also one of the most important--and controversial--concepts to emerge since Darwin's Origin of the Species.

Here, Blackmore boldly asserts: "Just as the design of our bodies can be understood only in terms of natural selection, so the design of our minds can be understood only in terms of memetic selection." Indeed, The Meme Machine shows that once our distant ancestors acquired the crucial ability to imitate, a second kind of natural selection began: a survival of the fittest among competing ideas and behaviors. Those that proved most adaptive--making tools, for example, or using language--survived and flourished, replicating themselves in as many minds as possible. These memes then passed themselves on from generation to generation by helping to ensure that the genes of those who acquired them also survived and reproduced. Applying this theory to many aspects of human life, Blackmore brilliantly explains why we live in cities, why we talk so much, why we can't stop thinking, why we behave altruistically, how we choose our mates, and much more. With controversial implications for our religious beliefs, our free will, and our very sense of "self", this provocative book will be must reading any general reader or student interested in psychology, biology, or anthropology. ... Read more

Reviews (71)

4-0 out of 5 stars At play in the fields of the memes
Blackmore romps across the memetic landscape like a puppy after a butterfly, and it is only when she worries over a bone of contention here or there that the results are less than delightful. If you read this book as an explication of sound scientific principles, you may be misled and -- worse! -- put off by tedious bone-worrying. So feel free to skip the occasional bit of tedium (I'm thinking particularly of material in the chapter "Three problems with memes") and go for the big ideas: why our brains are so big, why we talk so much, and most importantly, who we think we are.

I'd read nothing about memes before The Meme Machine and only a little about Universal Darwinism, but I found that Blackmore explained the principles well enough for argument's sake. When she hits her stride toward the latter half of the book, proof by hand-waving becomes the rule, and that's all to the benefit of the idea fest.

The ideas in the final chapters about memes of the self are well worth entertaining though sometimes self-contradictory (pun intended). I can admit to having an experience of self-shifting that can only be described as mystical -- enjoyable for me, but some might find it disturbing to have fundamental concepts of "selfness" discarded. For more ideas along these lines, I'd recommend The Invented Reality, ed. by Paul Watzlawick, and The User Illusion by Tor Nrretranders.

At the risk of making The Meme Machine sound like a pop-psych book (it's not), I'd add that the meme's-eye view allowed me to see that I had acquired world-view beliefs that were unhelpful and even psychologically destructive. "Meme-izing" these beliefs isolated them and rendered them harmless. Memes can indeed behave like psycho-viruses, but understanding memes offers a cure.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Meme Machine unleashed!
Human bodies evolved by natural selection, just
as other animals. But still we are different.
According to Susan Blackmore thats because we are
capable of imitation. We can thereby copy ideas,
habits,inventions, songs and stories. I.e. memes.
And now memes are as powerful, if not more powerful,
than the good old genes, in directing human evolution.

I find the idea intriguing, and certainly
Susan Blackmore argue well for the idea.
The (evolutionary) pressure for imitation skills
requires big brains. So we evolve big brains, as people
mate with the ones with the most memes.
Language is invented in order to spread memes.
Film stars, journalists, writers, singers,
politicians and artists become the most
attractive, as they are the ones who spread the
most memes.
Things that are hard to explain in a genetic
context (such as adoption, birth control, celibacy) are
easy to explain in a meme context
(the memes are happy with it, as it help spread

more memes).
Science becomes a process to distinguish
true memes from false memes. Fax-machines, telephones,
etc. are created (by the memes) in order to spread more
memes. Writing is a battleground in the head between
memes wanting to be spread.
etc.

It all rings true to me.
Except Susan Blackmores claim that the self
is a complex meme. Certainly it is puzzling
that blind people are reported thinking that their
"I" is located at their fingertips, when they
read Braille.
Still there are other explanations to what
a human "I" is than memes. Personally,
I prefer Antonio Damasios, as he explained
it in the book "the feeling of what happens".
Nevertheless, Susan Blackmores book is a very
exciting read, with lots of clever thoughts.

-Simon

1-0 out of 5 stars very poor in itself...
if you would like to read something on memes one of the best books (Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme
by Richard Brodie )
it seems to me realy something clear about this new model or contruct or life paradigm.i may say something about susan b. book, it seems the truth about memes,like maybe one preacher telling one ot the gospel, ``subliminal authorrity manipulation``i would not say that.there is no deep reality(bohr)there is no chair(watzlawick).brodie is aware and a very clear with no preachings.another splendid quamtum... Liane Gabora home page on the net.

4-0 out of 5 stars Are memes Science?
I happen to have read a few articles on memes before getting started with this book. After reading it, I still have this love hate relationship with the whole concept of memetics.
At times, I find the concept enlightning. Ideas presented by Dr. Blackmore on gene/meme coevolution in shaping the human brain and in developing a language are the main strength of this book. Thinking about human culture as a group of memes that shape the thought of its members seems to make a lot of sense. But the question remains, does common sense equal Science?
Obviously not. There is hardly any evidence that would substantiate the presence of memes as replicators. Maybe it would have been much more scientific to say that memes in human culture is an extension to the Baldwin effect. It could also be that memes "go off" sometimes and set selectional pressures on organisms reaching outcomes that would not be predicted by sociobiology and evolutionary pschycology.
Until a biological correlate for memetics is found, memetics can only be regarded as a social theory. For it to make it into biology, alot of work should be done. However, if one day this replicator was found, Dawkins, Blackmore and Dennett will be Golden. Their memes would be immortalized in the cultures of generations to come.

3-0 out of 5 stars Stretching the facts to fit the theory: a scientific nemesis
If you're not familiar with the terms "memes" or "memetics" or havent stumbled onto books by Richard Dawkins this would not be a bad place to figure out what this relatively fresh scientific fuss is about.
A meme is an idea that "seeks" to occupy a brain, use it as a host and then as a tool to spread. Many memes form memeplexes and memeplexes in turn form behaviors. The more powerful a meme is the better its chances to be "hosted" (accepted) and thus spread regardless of its usefullness or not and regardless of its "goodness" or "badness": if it's strong enough it will be replicated and spread.
This, in a nutshell, is the theory about memes and memetics presented in this book.

In my opinion it doesnt take too much convincing for this theory to appear pivotal in the process of understanding the works of the human brain. It is so strikingly obvious that this is exactly what's going on in the every day wars of the minds around "our" world that what is actually interesting is to what extend this process stretches.
And while S.Blackmore does a great job in laying out her theory and explaining memetics she does eventually fall into the great trap such scientific theories are prone to: overgeneralising and dogmatising.
To an extend, memetics do provide an adequate explanation for human behavior, but on the other hand, they leave certain areas as dark as they were before memetics were conceived. For example, memetics do not provide an explanation as to why memes that actually work towards our self-destruction as a species get copied anyway. Stating that they are replicated because "they are strong" is too simplistic because
a) masses of people might not replicate such memes yet they do prevail because of the structure of our societies
b) what does it say about our "intelligence" (the very same intelligence that helps us understand memes) if we do indeed copy self-destructful memes?
It is especially about this second question that this book and in general the theory about memetics fails to be fulfilling the way memetists would wish for.
I would personally have no problem to entertain the idea that our "intelligence" is way overrated and that our brains are majorly flawed but such an idea is not offered to me as an option in this book, and not only that, but the exact opposite is basically at times claimed and at other times implied in the "Meme machine".

Memes do exist (massively so) and do influence what we are and what we do (undeniably so). But where is the line drawn and is there such a line?
Memetists state that such a line probably does not exist and that memes are directly and solely responsible for every human behavior that we see around us. That would be too holistic and too nihilistic at the same time. Why do i say that?
Well, for starters it is actually totally hilarious that we are actually a species that admits it can only use a sorry 5% of its brain and yet with this 5% it claims to understand the other 95% as well. Memetists (and scientists alltogether) seem to somehow overlook this "tiny", "little" detail not only when they examine the human brain but also when they take on other, bigger (??) issues on, such the universe and so forth.
The theory that seems to be a great dogmatic aspect of our current science: "there's only what meets the eye" (and memetics stands on exactly that premise when you analyse it down to its core) is one that never convinced me and actually, the more i read and acquire what little knowledge i can as a human the more inplausible it becomes.

This is not the view of a theist (I'm very far from that) but the view of a realist, whatever realism my personal 5% usage of my brain allows me to.

Understanding what memes are and how they work will help you understand our current predicaments more than anything. The fact that most of the time we imitate without discrimination, without applying judgement is obvious but is it our nature? What if we taught children how to NOT imitate in such a pathetic way or how to filter and process every single thought that goes or gets created in their brains? What would happen then and where would that put the whole memetics theory?

To finish things off, i do recommend this book. I do in no way recommend to accept it in the overwhelmingly dogmatic fashion it presents itself.
Memetics are useful and we need them in our effort to understand. But if we try to turn them into another scientific religion we will achieve the exact opposite. ... Read more


139. Single-Molecule Detection in Solution Methods and Applications
list price: $215.00
our price: $215.00
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Asin: 3527403108
Catlog: Book (2002-01-15)
Publisher: Wiley-VCH
Sales Rank: 796474
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Book Description

The detection of single molecules opens up new horizons in analytical chemistry, biology and medicine. This discipline, which belongs to the expanding field of nanoscience, has been rapidly emerging over the last ten years.
This handbook provides a thorough overview of the field. It begins with basics of single molecule detection in solution, describes methods and devices (fluorescense correlation spectroscopy, surface enhanced Raman scattering, sensors, especially dyes, screening techniques, especially confocal laser scanning microscopy). In the second part, various applications in life sciences and medicine provide the latest research results.
This modern handbook is a highly accessible reference for a broad community from advanced researchers, specialists and company professionals in physics, spectroscopy, biotechnology, analytical chemistry, and medicine. Written by leading authorities in the field, it is timely and fills a gap - up to now there exists no handbook concerning this theme.
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140. Essentials of Genetics (5th Edition)
by William S. Klug, Michael R. Cummings
list price: $103.00
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Asin: 0131435108
Catlog: Book (2004-02-09)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Sales Rank: 215891
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Book Description

Balancing coverage of both classical and modern genetics, this book presents a succinct overview of genetics. Known for a clear writing style, an emphasis on concepts, and thoughtful coverage of all areas of genetics, the authors capture readers' interest with up-to-date coverage of cutting-edge topics and research. The new edition features "How Do We Know What We Know?" boxes to focus readers on the experimental aspects of genetics. This book covers the latest information on genetics, such as genomics, conservation genetics, sex determination and sex chromosomes, genomics and proteomics,molecular genetics, and population genetics. It will appeal to evolutionarily-oriented professionals in the biological sciences, zoology, agriculture, and health science fields.

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