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list($81.45)
141. Microbiology: An Introduction
$39.50 $23.87
142. Life on a Young Planet : The First
$47.30 $35.75 list($55.00)
143. Computational Molecular Biology:
$16.35 $14.25 list($25.95)
144. Nature Via Nurture : Genes, Experience,
$82.95 $75.00
145. Molecular Systematics
$15.99 $10.20
146. Origins of Life (CANTO)
$14.96 $13.99 list($22.00)
147. The Great Human Diasporas: The
$34.95 $33.55
148. A Primer of Ecological Genetics
$44.95 $39.11
149. Principles of Molecular Virology
$49.00 $46.90
150. Winning Ways for Your Mathematical
$73.95 $59.84
151. DNA Technology : The Awesome Skill
$120.00
152. The Evolution and Extinction of
$45.00 $43.11
153. DNA Science: A First Course, Second
$41.00 $29.32
154. The Rise of Fishes: 500 Million
$10.20 $7.50 list($15.00)
155. The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts
$67.96 list($79.95)
156. Numerical Optimization
$24.95 $11.98
157. Biochemistry & Genetics: PreTest
$24.95 $23.95
158. High-Yield Cell and Molecular
$44.00 $42.85 list($55.00)
159. An Introduction to Bioinformatics
$16.95 $14.70
160. On the Origin of Species a Facsimile

141. Microbiology: An Introduction
by Gerard J. Tortora, Berdell R. Funke, Christine L. Case
list price: $81.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805384960
Catlog: Book (1994-12-01)
Publisher: Benjamin-Cummings Pub Co
Sales Rank: 247387
Average Customer Review: 3.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

With every new edition, the No. 1 best-selling non-majors microbiology book wins over readers with its careful balance of concepts and applications, art that teaches, and its straightforward presentation of complex topics. For Microbiology: An Introduction, Eighth Edition, this successful formula has been refined with hundreds of research and disease updates, updated morbidity data, and an enhanced Mircobiology Place Website and CD-ROM.For college instructors, students, or anyone interested in microbiology. ... Read more

Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars It's an excellent book for undergraduate students!!!
It was by chance that I learned from this book. A student of mine went to California on vacation and she bought it. Later she showed it to me. I found that "MICROBIOLOGY an Introduction" is a very good text book. I use, and recommend it to the students at the Faculty of Dentistry at the Santa María University, USM.

LUIS A. GUEVARA M.Sc., D.Sc. Chief of Department of Oral Biology - Faculty of Dentistry - USM

5-0 out of 5 stars THE BEST BASIC MICROBIOLOGY BOOK EVER!!!!
THIS BOOK IS EXCELLENT. I originally purchased it for a course in undergraduate Microbiology. It explains concepts and ideas clearly and has many illustrations to increase understanding of structures and the details of microbial organisms, such as viral envelopes and bacterial cell walls. Now that I am in Medical school, I still refer back to it as an introduction and refresher for more advanced medical courses. The concepts are so clearly presented that it is easy to go back and read over a few chapters of this book to enhance and reinforce the understanding of particular subjects. When you are short on time, it is much better to review chapters in this book than to scan and decipher numerous pages of medical text when many of the important main points are presented clearly in this text. Although, I recommend using it as an adjunct to your class lecture notes. If you are looking for a dry, banal book that will put you to sleep, this is not it. ANYONE WHO GAVE THIS BOOK A BAD REVIEW IS WRONG!!! THIS BOOK IS EXCELLENT!!! BUY IT AND SEE FOR YOURSELF!!!

2-0 out of 5 stars Caution: This is not the Textbook!
Be aware that this is NOT the textbook, it is the Study Guide! Although it may be useful for you (we decided to keep it anyway), it isn't what the title says.

2-0 out of 5 stars NOT a keeper
We used this book in our Microbiology class (community college-pre nursing). Everyone, including me, disliked this book. We usually keep all our books for future use, but concensus was to get rid of this one. We have found the topics to be scattered all over the book and not organized well. DNA replication information was not clearly explained...In fact I found most of the topics to be better explained in "Biology" by Cambell-Reece-Mitchell. I usually read all my books. This class, I used the web for DNA replication and bacteria caused diseases, and biology book for the rest. One good thing came out of this. It forced me to use the web, and it is a great resource for Micro.

1-0 out of 5 stars Inaccurate descriotion of paperback
I was surprised to open my parcel to find the study guide instead of the textbook. There is NOTHING in the description that explains as so. Very dissapointed as I need the text for an exam. ... Read more


142. Life on a Young Planet : The First Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth (Princeton Science Library)
by Andrew H. Knoll
list price: $39.50
our price: $39.50
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Asin: 0691009783
Catlog: Book (2003-03-17)
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Sales Rank: 42842
Average Customer Review: 4.38 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Australopithecines, dinosaurs, trilobites--such fossils conjure up images of lost worlds filled with vanished organisms. But in the full history of life, ancient animals, even the trilobites, form only the half-billion-year tip of a nearly four-billion-year iceberg. Andrew Knoll explores the deep history of life from its origins on a young planet to the incredible Cambrian explosion, presenting a compelling new explanation for the emergence of biological novelty.

The very latest discoveries in paleontology--many of them made by the author and his students--are integrated with emerging insights from molecular biology and earth system science to forge a broad understanding of how the biological diversity that surrounds us came to be. Moving from Siberia to Namibia to the Bahamas, Knoll shows how life and environment have evolved together through Earth's history. Innovations in biology have helped shape our air and oceans, and, just as surely, environmental change has influenced the course of evolution, repeatedly closing off opportunities for some species while opening avenues for others.

Readers go into the field to confront fossils, enter the lab to discern the inner workings of cells, and alight on Mars to ask how our terrestrial experience can guide exploration for life beyond our planet. Along the way, Knoll brings us up-to-date on some of science's hottest questions, from the oldest fossils and claims of life beyond the Earth to the hypothesis of global glaciation and Knoll's own unifying concept of ''permissive ecology.''

In laying bare Earth's deepest biological roots, Life on a Young Planet helps us understand our own place in the universe--and our responsibility as stewards of a world four billion years in the making.

... Read more

Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars A rolling voyage through time.
This book is a rolling voyage over the waves of eras and eons, fossils and nucleotides, chemistry and physics. The story sways with a rhythm that is both soothing and stimulating. On the voyage we are taught how life may have begun, how it evolved, how it changed it's environment -- indeed how it changed the entire planet. We see how slowly life moved at first, and how it suddenly accellerated to its current frenzy. The author, our ready guide throughout this voyage, culminates the trip with perhaps the most profound and moving epilog I have ever read in a book of this kind. Well done. Accessible. Fun. Instructive. Powerful.

5-0 out of 5 stars Modern Science Opens New (and Exciting) Doors to Paleontolog
I was motivated to buy this book after reading "Wonderful Life" by Stephen Jay Gould. That book is about the fossils in a 500 million year old shale and Gould does a beautiful and detailed job of explaining the intricacies of that research (Gould is a bit more folksy than the high tech Knoll). The present book by the Harvard Professor Andrew Knoll is similar but much broader in scope and starts back further in time to cover a period before dinosaurs, and before the trilobites described by Gould, back even farther to life in the Cambrian sea and before. The author tries to give us this broad picture of the 4 billion year development of life starting from simple bacteria - and relating that to other forms of life - and to the evolution of the environment on the planet.

What comes across loud and clear in the book is that a lot of progress is being made in evolution theory and paleontology using breakthroughs in the biological sciences along with modern research instrumentation. In other words a lot of exciting things are happening. This is not a quick read. It requires a clear mind and a determination to follow the author through a sophisticated but worthwhile scientific (and human) story. This is not a novel but it can be read and enjoyed.

This is a very well written book impressive in the detail, scope, and knowledge of the author. It is quite an impressive but short book for the general public on paleontology. This is a relatively short book of about 250 pages with 25 pages of notes and further readings, index, etc. The book contains a nice range of photos and charts, but it is mainly text. Short but intense.

It was painstakingly assembled to demonstrate a number of themes. One theme is the formation and development of ancient life; he explains that history. Another is to explain modern paleontology and how it actually function, i.e.: how can we go back in time. Another theme is - the interplay between the biodiversity and the environment. The latter describes the changes as the earth evolved through different climates and periods.

When Darwin wrote "Origin of the Species" he had only a partial view of the situation and it is generally agreed that he equivocates in his book about certain details. Since that time approximately 150 years has past and science has made many giant leaps forward. We have a much better understanding of the chemistry of plants, genetics, gene splicing, nuclear dating, and so on plus we have a broad array of new instruments and techniques to look at materials down to the sub-micron level and smaller.

Darwin's tree of life is in fact now composed of three branches being, i.e.: Bacteria, Eucarya (plants, animals, etc) and more recently Archaea being added. Furthermore this "tree" can be shown to be partially connected from genes. It is now clear that Prokaryotic (bacteria) metabolic processes form and sustain the fundamental ecology of life through the carbon, nitrogen, sulfur cycles on earth. Without the bacteria there would be no life as we know it - no us. And we of course know about our branch of the tree, but much less is known about this third branch Archaea.

The author goes into great detail to explain the study of ancient bacteria, the "Oxygen revolution", origins of Eukaryotic cells, animal fossils, and how they were discovered, where and what it all means. He discusses what is known and what are just guesses. He also discusses the search for life in meteorites. All in all it is short, intensive, but still very comprehensive and intensive.

Congratulations and thanks to the author for an excellent read. Five stars.

Jack in Toronto

5-0 out of 5 stars A fine balance
Knoll provides what may be the finest description of the sciences of early life available. Bringing together such fields as geology, biochemistry, genetics and, of course, his own science of paleontology, he presents a vivid image of how life formed long ago. The subtitle is deceptively simple. "First three billion years" rolls off the tongue easily. Knoll demonstrates the quest to understand how life originated has been elusive and arduous. The search, he reminds us constantly, is far from over. We may not even gain meaningful grasp of the subject if we restrict the inquiry to this planet.

Knoll asserts the benchmark for comprehending how life may have started was the Urey-Miller experiments of the 1950s. By assuming a particular composition of Earth's early atmosphere and bombarding that recipe with electricity to duplicate lightning, Urey and Miller produced amino acids. Knoll credits these experiments not with showing how life began, but by their stimulation of much further research. Since then, geologists have revealed increasingly older rocks. Instead of buried deep beneath the surface as might be expected, they are often found well exposed. Knoll's expeditions to chilly Siberian sites are offset by the roaring desert of outback Australia. Both locations have provided researchers with new information on composition, chemical and environmental processes, and, most significantly, Precambrian fossils.

The many research fields now involved in developing a picture of life's beginnings indicate how complex a task unveiling "simple" can be. Early life, of course, was microscopic. Sometimes it isn't fossils that are found, but spoor remains - tracks once left in mud, images of forms, and, most intriguing for many, chemical signatures. The chemical, is usually carbon, that fundamental element of life. But other elements, iron, sulfur and oxygen also carry messages about living processes.

Knoll manages a delicate arabesque as he presents us with the evidence obtained and the interpretations derived from it. He carefully delineates the fossil information given by the rocks, mixing it with geological and geochemical processes. Various researchers are given voice through his narrative. Where issues are contentious, and most ideas of early life fit that description, he explains the reasons behind the stance, then offers his own choice. While the conflict is rarely solved, none of his solutions are arbitrary or based on personality. You are still left to satisfy your own mind through his references. Knoll's prose presents this information and discussion with clarity and balance. At the end, with these lucid explanations as background, he considers that answers to many of our questions may be found on our nearest planetary neighbour - Mars.

Beyond the informative text provided, Knoll enhances the book with site photographs to convey the scale of the locations excavated. Ancient landscapes are today stark, and the photos do little to convey the nippy Kotuikan cliffs or the roasting Precambrian site of North Pole, Western Australia. A collection of plates offers stunning colour images of ancient fossils and some modern equivalents. He further diagrams phylogenetic trees showing the relationship of organisms and why they are considered related. Not all life, he reminds us, has followed the path to complexity. With a good, but not exhaustive, reading list to examine, the reader may continue the pursuit. The younger reader may even wish to further the knowledge we have. Knoll exhorts the next generation of early life researchers to examine the questions and go afield to provide more answers. There are few worthier causes. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent book, but not an introductory book
Andrew Knoll's Life on a Young Planet is a fascinating attempt to describe the current state of our knowledge of how life evolved during the Earth's first three billion years. Most of the book deals with the period more than 543 million years ago. This period of Earth's history is not well understood, yet it saw the development of multicellular life and the start of the animal kingdom. Knoll's book is a balance account of the latest thinking on the division of life into domains, the rise of eukaryotic cells, the development of multicellular life, and the rise of plants and animals.

The book is balanced and avoids taking the route of sensationalism. A reader who is interested in biology and evolution can learn a lot from it. The book, however, does have two problems. First, it assumes that the reader is familiar with biology and genetics at the introductory University level. Readers with no previous knowledge will probably find themselves getting lost in the dense text. The second problem is that the book's ending is somewhat unsatisfactory. The author stops his discussion of the evolution of life at the Cambrian Explosion and ends the book with a chapter about what lessons that the early history of Earthly life teach about the prospects of life elsewhere in the Universe. This jump is jarring and leaves the reader feeling that the book is lacking a conclusion.

All in all I highly recommend this book to anyone who already knows the difference between eukaryotic and prokaryotic life. If, however, you need to do a Google search to understand that last sentence then this book may be a bit too advanced for you.

5-0 out of 5 stars Get a grip
One of the great dilemmas of life is life itself. Scientists are still arguing Darwinian evolution and Creationists abound. This book was clearly written to stimulate thought and not to answer "The big question!" Much remains to be discovered, but much is known. This book helps to place you in the group understanding the latter.

By the way, if you can't follow this book, be happy in your ignorance--these are very deep questions that are not meant for the weak of mind or the religious zealot. ... Read more


143. Computational Molecular Biology: An Algorithmic Approach (Computational Molecular Biology)
by Pavel A. Pevzner
list price: $55.00
our price: $47.30
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0262161974
Catlog: Book (2000-08-21)
Publisher: Bradford Books
Sales Rank: 157378
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In one of the first major texts in the emerging field of computational molecular biology, Pavel Pevzner covers a broad range of algorithmic and combinatorial topics and shows how they are connected to molecular biology and to biotechnology. The book has a substantial "computational biology without formulas" component that presents the biological and computational ideas in a relatively simple manner. This makes the material accessible to computer scientists without biological training, as well as to biologists with limited background in computer science.

Computational Molecular Biology series Computer science and mathematics are transforming molecular biology from an informational to a computational science. Drawing on computational, statistical, experimental, and technological methods, the new discipline of computational molecular biology is dramatically increasing the discovery of new technologies and tools for molecular biology. The new MIT Press Computational Molecular Biology series provides a unique venue for the rapid publication of monographs, textbooks, edited collections, reference works, and lecture notes of the highest quality. ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars The title says it...
An excellent book for studying computational molecular biology from an algorithmic perspective. (But if you never took mathematics seriously, you are forewarned.)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good book, but the back cover lies....
As others have noted, the premise that this book is for beginners from either the computational or the biological field is flawed...unless one's definition of beginner is a lot more advanced than mine.

For example even chapter one throws out terms like "recombination" and electrophoresis. without enough explanation for the biology newbie, IMO. Heck, for someone truly new to biology, a bit of time explaining what a chromosome is is probably time well spent.

And for the person coming from a pure biology background, some of the mathematics will definitely be a problem unless they have a decent understanding of combinatorics and discrete mathematics. And that "computational biology without formulas" blurb on the back cover should be read as "not as many formulas as I could have included if I really wanted", rather than "no formulas at all". There are equations galore in this book, rest assured of that.

That said, if a person *does* have the necessary background to make the material accessbile, then the book is definitely worth the purchase. The book's failure is in defining its target audience, not in the material presented.

4-0 out of 5 stars computational
While this is certainly the do-loop of computational biology the reader would question the assertion that this book provides a common link (no pun) between the biologists need for computational expertise and the programmer's need for biological insight. In either case a solid basis in Discrete Mathematics goes along way here (usually a required course for computer science majors). This reader thinks a similar required course in genetics should be made for engineers to reduce their reductionistic tendencies. However the distinction between these lines grows narrower with each new computer chip. None the less the book is well written, and easy to read (as Discrete Math stuff goes). This book is not for beginners in either Combinatorics or genetics and the last part of the book poses many current questions that as the author says, "are just currently being answered". This book already assumes you know about such things as NIH, PDB, Chime, Isis, NCIB, docking, etc. For those less adapt at programming (myself) the following alternatives are fun, useful and to the point. Both trees and networks can be easily set up in MathCad using their built in resource center add-ins for Combinatorics and Set Theory. They also provide a Traveling Salesman routine in Numerical Recipes that can be applied directly to the problems in Pevzner's book. (Although remembering that most optimization algorithms provide only the most probable 100 out of 2 million it is still fun!). Most of the mappings and node process familiar to Discrete Math can be solved using Mathcad and some sort of adjacency matrix combination. (Including the four-color mapping problem). This provides the basis for most nodal mappings. For the more daring the adjacency matrices can be run through Matlab's GUI's decompositions and analyzed using their optimization toolbox. Currently I'm investigating the Hidden Markovian chains using the Frame advance feature of Mathcad applied to 2D cspline- intercept graphing and updating by frame iteration. This book is for the serious student or solid course material in a related field, and while probably not rated in top ten novels of 2000 certainly rates five mouse clicks from this reader.

4-0 out of 5 stars Nice book for experts
The title is somewhat misleading because the book is primarily devoted to combinatorial methods that could be used in genome sequencing and genomics. The selection of methods is arbitrary and does not seem to be dictated by either pedagogical or scientific vision. It mainly reflects the author's own work and interests. Contrary to what the editorial review states I find this text quite abstract and formal. I like the book very much but I don't think it should be recommended to the beginners in computational biology. Readers who have a taste for mathematics and a strong background in combinatorics could benefit the most from reading this book. Anybody who looks for a textbook-level guidance in computational biology should probably rely on better designed texts such as Don Gusfield's "Algorithms on strings trees and sequences" or "Biological sequence analysis" by Durbin and co-authors. However, the readers who are interested in mathematics behind designs of DNA arrays (chapter 5) or in mathematical treatment of genome rearrangements (chapter 10) should certainly read this book in detail.

4-0 out of 5 stars A must have for computational biologists
If you want to understand what is INSIDE those nice software tools available to molecular biologists and now on the web you have to study this book. It's a little more advanced than Gusfield's in some aspects, and more research oriented. Of course it does not cover uniformly all areas of computational biology: if you know Pavel's work, it would be very easy to predict the content of the chapters. For example, more than 50 pages are dedicated to genome rearrangement, but only 10 on multiple sequence alignment. Anyway, this is good, because we can learn about alignment from many other books, in particular the one by Gusfield. I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in this fascinating field of Science. ... Read more


144. Nature Via Nurture : Genes, Experience, and What Makes Us Human
by Matt Ridley
list price: $25.95
our price: $16.35
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060006781
Catlog: Book (2003-05-01)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Sales Rank: 21022
Average Customer Review: 3.95 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

In the follow-up to his bestseller, Genome, Matt Ridleytakes on a centuries-old question: is it nature or nurture that makes uswho we are? Ridley asserts that the question itself is a "falsedichotomy." Using copious examples from human and animal behavior, hepresents the notion that our environment affects the way our genesexpress themselves.

Ridley writes that the switches controlling our 30,000 or so genes notonly form the structures of our brains but do so in such a way as to cueoff the outside environment in a tidy feedback loop of body andbehavior. In fact, it seems clear that we have genetic "thermostats"that are turned up and down by environmental factors. He challenges bothscientific and folk concepts, from assumptions of what's malleable in aperson to sociobiological theories based solely on the "selfish gene."

Ridley's proof is in the pudding for such touchy subjects as monogamy,aggression, and parenting, which we now understand have some geneticcontrols. Nevertheless, "the more we understand both our genes and ourinstincts, the less inevitable they seem." A consummate popularizer ofscience, Ridley once again provides a perfect mix of history, genetics,and sociology for readers hungry to understand the implications of thehuman genome sequence. --Therese Littleton ... Read more

Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars I almost skipped this one but...
"Nature via Nurture"; the title sounds like a dead horse that doesn't need to be beaten any more. I decided to pick this one up because I love Ridley's work, and because it is read by the author. What a treat that is! With the author reading the book, you know that the nuances are correct, and that the abridgement isn't harming the message.

The discussions in this book are dramatically and importantly different from other discussions of "Nature/Nurture", and I can hardly recommend it strongly enough. What is different is the degree of specificity that Ridley brings to the conversation. He demonstrates from a dozen different points of view HOW causality flows both ways, from the genes to the environment and back. He also pokes holes in logical fallacies one hears all the time - for example, the assertion that a feature is not genetic because the specific genes have not (and in some cases may not ever) been identified. A well-constructed twin study positively identifies heritability of traits; tracking that heritability back to a spot on a chromosome is useful and interesting but not necessary.

There is also basic science here that the lay reader might not otherwise learn for years. For instance, until very recently it was thought that there was a one to one correlation between genes and their proteins. It was also unknown what, if any, purpose breaking genes apart into exons on the chromosome served. Now we have discovered that many - ninety five on one mouse gene - different versions of one exon can exist on the chromosome, allowing one gene to make many different versions of its protein. Different versions mediated by... environment, of course.

Much of the information here is counter-intuitive. For instance, the more egalitarian a society is, the more the heritabilaty of traits becomes manifest. Potentially confusing, certainly mind-bending, and who better than Ridley to explain it?

If you are interested in biology, read this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars If ever a wiz, a wiz there was, if ever a wiz there was
Matt Ridley has written a very good book on the origins of human behavior. It's worth reading two or three times just to keep all the information straight, unless you're one who just downloads what you read into your file cabinet of a mind. Well,... not I, this was difficult. In that other reveiwers here have gone into an adequate description of the book I'd like to assume a different tack. Why did Ridley follow up "Genome" with "Nature via Nurture?"

It seems that he's gone to great lengths to establish a postulate that genes are enabling forces that engage nature in some sort of a closed feed-back loop whereby they're switched on and off by yet other genes in response to the influences of outside events. This is fascinating and makes perfect sense. Yet we also learn of genes that govern our ability to pair-bond/ to form loving relationships, genes for agression vs timidity, genes for criminal behavior, genes for fear and courage, for intensity vs calmness, and a myriad of other behavioral traits, abilities and characteristics. Can these traits be changed by outside events?

We find that restraint is the lynchpin of culture, and it's that which separates us from the apes. We also learn that specialization and division of labor are unique to humans relative to animals who have to do everything for themselves. This all has a plausible ring to it does it not? Again and again we're told of all the different ways that genes/nature are coupled with nurture/environment until we become intellectually dizzy with all the permutations of information derived from history, science and societal differences. We learn of the countless ways genes can and do interact. It's a full bucket of information!

Then we get to the twin studies and the hereitability of traits and behavioral characteristics. This is fascinating. Identical twins have a far greater incidence of hereitible traits than fraternal twins. And, even if they've been separated at birth they show remarkable similarities in every way when they're reintroduced 35 years later, even when brought up in entirely different surroundings. Somehow the environmental side of the equation failed to switch those genes on and off in a way that would have radically changed their behavior in the interim. However, it's not politically correct to say this. After all, political correctness has always been the province of those on the Left who have made the claim that the perfect socialist man will result if inflenced with the proper environmental stimuli, from birth or otherwise. Ridley points out that this form of societal organization has resulted in gulags and mass murder, but that logic hasn't seemed to have affected the collective worldveiws of those who have what the author Thomas Sowell refers to as "the vision of the annointed." In any event, Ridley brings all of these competing theories into play while nudging his premise toward the middle of the political road. He does it well!

The book "Taboo", by a track and field guy whose name escapes me, goes into great length on the dominance that some racial groups have in certain sports and in certain track and field events. Thomas Sowell has written repeatedly about how different nationalities have become adept at different tasks or trades in different areas of the world. And, J.Philip Rushton has written extensively on this subject in his book, "race, evolution and behavior." Whether one agrees with these gentlemen or not their work deserves discussion. While Ridley eschews this radioactive info he does go into the work of Jane Goodall with the Chimps in Gombi. I believe that Ridley is acutely aware of this point of view, but that he's doesn't want to be pegged as a radical in favor of genetic determinism (and I don't believe that he is a radical). However, he knows that when one goes too far in favor of "nurture" as a deciding behavioral factor that one can be caricatured and more easily dismissed by the political enemies of ones position.

I'm hopeful that research will soon tell us what it is that makes it so common for humans to blind themselves from accepting new information into their old theories of how the world works; to tell us, how a man might change his belief system and subsequently his behavior patterns. When this feedback loop is established mankind will take a quantum leap forward. Ridley is a magnificent narrator in this endeavor and I look forward to his continuing tale with eager anticipation. The excitement is evident as new information flows into this on-going debate, and I agree with Ridley as he says, "it's the most profound intellectual moment in the history of mankind", truly a magic time to be alive!

1-0 out of 5 stars Good general concepts ruined by bias in examples
I am reviewing the Agile Gene, which is a reprint of Nature via Nurture (it is the identical book). The first part of the book gave me hope for some sort of middle ground where a popular scientist might acknowledge the complexity of how indirectly genes and biology affect human behavior (as opposed to the glib "gay gene discovered," "gene for aggression discovered" articles you see so often).

He did this-- his book acknowledges, for example, that if you do a twin study of families in middle-class America, you have indirectly limited the influence of the environment (by excluding more diverse cultures) and therefore the influence of genes on variability in a trait will be larger. The problem is, he then proceeds to completely ignore this informative, nuanced view when tackling the controversial issues that get people interested in the Nature-Nurture debate in the first place (gender roles, homosexuality, and mental illness for example).

Like so many science writers, he has little apparent knowledge of the humanities, social history, etc., and he holds his own preferred beliefs about human nature to a lower standard of proof than his opponents'. It is actually true that, as part of his defense of the idea of innate gender roles, he made reference to both the humorist Dave Barry *and* the popular work "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus." Don't get me wrong, I like Dave Barry, but he would be the first one to point out that he's not a scientific authority on cross-cultural gender studies!

Ridley claims that [American or British] men's focus on "things" over "relationships" is genetic, but this idea, combined with his bit on homosexuality, merely shows that he needs to travel more. In America, women have much gushier friendships than men-they have "girlfriends" but we aren't supposed to have "boyfriends"-but this is not true in most places. In Latin America and many parts of Asia, Africa, and southern Europe, it is normal for straight men to kiss each other, hold hands, sometimes even have rituals of commitment to their friendships, etc. This also challenges the "gay gene" hypothesis: if big chunks of what Americans call "gay" are considered to be "straight" throughout the rest of the world, what would the gay gene code for? Even if it coded strictly for sex, in Mexico the top boy is often considered straight, and plenty of people everywhere experiment outside their "official" orientation. What all of this shows is that even if you have a gene for something, language and culture get added to it to create the final meaning. Ridley even acknowledges this ("genes enable, they don't restrict") but doesn't follow his own theory to its logical conclusion.

In his section about the genetic basis of monogamy, he infers that because Margaret Mead failed to find a truly sexually libertine society in Samoa, they must not exist anywhere. (Mead was seeking a society without a taboo on premarital sex, which she could now find in any major American city.) He also assumes that all experiments with open marriage in Western societies had failed; if he had actually taken the time to look, he would know that people still practice open marriage today. Yes, some people have a lot of trouble with jealousy and give up on it, but others I have met find that open relationships are second nature to them. So, if Mr. Ridley had taken the time to talk to anyone from the cultures he claims cannot exist, he could have an interesting discussion about individual differences in sexual jealousy (genetic or environmental?). Instead, we simply learn that, in addition to not knowing where the social history section of the library is, Matt Ridley also does not know how to find subcultures on the Internet or check his local alternative paper for club meetings.

In an otherwise-well-written chapter, he says that schizophrenia genes might have survived natural selection because in another combination they can lead to inventiveness. Well and good, but another reason these genes could be passed down is because not all cultures see "hearing voices" as a bad thing-some even see it as a form of religious inspiration! Even among those cultures that do see it as bad, most cultures do not leave their ill members out in the woods to die. But in Ridley-land, our ancestors were apparently all American Republicans in gated communities who go on rants about the danger of socialized medicine!

I find it truly scary that this man has written a book called "Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature." He doesn't know the first thing about the diversity of human sexuality, friendship, or love. On the other hand, his book HAS awakened me to a new truth: maybe the problem with advocates of genetic sources of behavior isn't so much the fact that they believe that human diversity comes from genetic sources, as the fact that they base their theories on so little knowledge of what human diversity actually entails. Whether it's based on genes, environment, both, or neither, there's a whole lot more under the sun than is dreamt of in Matt Ridley's philosophy.

4-0 out of 5 stars Another excellent work from Ridley
Following on from Genome (which I've reviewed), I find Matt Ridley very easy to read.

Here he selects 12 'Hairy Scientists', some famous (eg Freud, Pavlov, Darwin), some not so famous, and weaves a wonderful story as he takes us through the highs and lows of their research & that of their contemporaries, bringing us right up to date with the Genome. With interesting anecdotes he brings each individual to life.

The 7 moral conclusions at the end were particularly useful, especially No. 2 "being a good parent still matters"

Given I'm now in the process of reading a similar book with some very poor illustrations, it was only afterwards looking back, that I see that I was entertained & educated without the need for any sketches or diagrams, and yet didn't feel cheated, deprived or confused.

2-0 out of 5 stars C'mon now...
You can be reasonably sure that any "scientist" who readily endorses Lomborg's The Skeptical Environmentalist is inappropriately abusing his position to promote his political agenda. ... Read more


145. Molecular Systematics
by David M. Hillis, Craig Moritz, Barbara K. Mable
list price: $82.95
our price: $82.95
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Asin: 0878932828
Catlog: Book (1996-01-01)
Publisher: Sinauer Associates
Sales Rank: 256898
Average Customer Review: 3.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Within the past decade, molecular systematic methods have been applied in most fields of biology to provide an evolutionary framework whenever comparisons are made among individuals, populations, or higher taxa. The first edition of Molecular Systematics became a standard reference for this vigorous field by describing each aspect of the planning, execution, and analysis of a molecular systematic study. The new edition updates and expands this coverage, and includes considerable information on new molecular techniques and methods of analysis.

Molecular Systematics includes chapters on sampling design, the collection and storage of tissues, each of the major molecular techniques, and intraspecific and phylogenetic analysis. The sampling chapters describe how to plan a study and how to collect, transport, and store the appropriate tissues for each study. The techniques chapters cover principles, assumptions, applications, limitations, and protocols for isozyme electrophoresis, molecular cytogenetics, DNA hybridization, the polymerase chain reaction, restriction site and fragment analysis, and nucleic acid sequencing and alignment. Advantages and disadvantages of alternative approaches are discussed for each technique, and recent developments (such as new methods of fluorescent in situ hybridization, rapid screening methods for detecting DNA sequence variation, automated sequencing methods, new approaches for PCR, and microsatellite analyses) are detailed. Three additional chapters cover the rationale and methodology of molecular data analysis at both the population and interspecific levels, and provide information on using and obtaining the relevant computer programs (including the many programs available for free across the Internet). The chapter on phylogenetic analysis has been considerably expanded to include the latest developments in maximum likelihood analysis, spectral analysis, methods for reconstructing reticulating networks, corrections for complex models of sequence evolution, and methods for assessing confidence in phylogenetic results. The book also includes discussion of processes of molecular evolution, experimental molecular studies, molecular simulations, the molecular meaning of homology, and limitations and applications of the molecular clock hypothesis.

This edition of Molecular Systematics will provide new insights and is an important reference work for established investigators, as well as a comprehensive introduction for newcomers to the field. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars simply brilliant
Hillis gets down to the nitty gritty right away in this information packed book. The text is very readable and he goes into some detail on the methods used to reconstruct phylogenies from sequence data. He pulls no punches in describing the weaknesses and strengths of each method, and further offers insight as to where the field is headed and what we can expect in future analyses as genomic and EST databases become ever larger.

In short, this is a detailed overview of using sequence data to test evolutionary hypotheses. It is an essential part of your bookshelf as an evolutionary biologist. Highly recommend!

2-0 out of 5 stars What is Molecular Phylogenetics?
This book does not tell anything about sequence alignment.
Except this 'little problem' it is a good book anyway.
But do you think that sequence alignment is not an important issue in molecular phylogenetics?

4-0 out of 5 stars review of Molecular Systematics
Molecular Systematics is the best general text on population and evolutionary genetics I have read. It provides sufficient depth to give adequate understanding of molecular phylogenetics and molecular population genetics data for most purposes. The broad research behind the work makes it an excellent starting point for finding journal articles on specific subjects within this field. The only drawback to the book is that it is five years old and the field is quite fast moving. Hopefully a new edition will appear shortly. ... Read more


146. Origins of Life (CANTO)
by Freeman J. Dyson
list price: $15.99
our price: $15.99
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Asin: 0521626684
Catlog: Book (1999-09-28)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 321627
Average Customer Review: 4.17 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Concise introduction to the origin of life.
An excellent book about the origins of life. Dyson does an excellent job of clarifying the main issues concerning the origins of life while introducing some of his own ideas. He keeps it all together in a very tight package.

His own theory about the origin of life is quite interesting and probably could be expanded upon, especially in light of other, similar mathematical treatments such as those of Manfred Eigen.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bright Light
Great short book. A good way to spend an hour and learn a lot on the way.

1-0 out of 5 stars Like A Physicist Out of Water
I love science fiction, and this book is science fiction, but with one serious flaw: The author is a physicist and his lack of training in chemisty, genetics, and biology is an embarrassment throughout the book; which I guess is why he kept it to 90 pages; he ran out of things to say. Having a physicist explain biology is like having a biologist explain physics. Hello?! Does this make sense? No, and neither does this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Short Book That Says a Lot
In 91 pages of text Freeman Dyson says some surprising and wonderful things, and turns around some conventional notions about the place of replicating molecules such as DNA and RNA in early life. His view is that they came later - perhaps much later - after metabolism was established in cells that reproduced sloppily and approximately, but had robust-enough homeostatic mixes that a split was usually successful. This view was approximately that of a Russian named Oparin 75 years ago, but the dazzle of the genome has turned almost everyone to thinking that precise replicators had priority in the development of life over haphazard metabolizers.

Dyson does not depend on hand-waving and vague argument to draw these conclusions. He reviews what is known and the main extant theories of life's origin, then introduces his own, using a "toy model" that abstracts the chemistry and draws conclusions about steady-state solutions that might work. As befits a great theoretician, it is an elegant and powerful bit of theorizing, but does not wander from the constraints of the chemistry -- as far as he knows. But Dyson is clear that the point of his model is to stimulate experiment, and that organic chemists will be the ones to judge the usefulness and viability of his assumptions.

Unless you are a physicist, you won't follow some of his work in solving for the model, but you can trust the math and the physics when it comes from Freeman Dyson. Just glance at the equations and graphs, but follow the words in his model chapter and get a real feel for the kind of system that proto-life might have been.

He makes a good case for the essence of life being complexity, and that the conceptual purity and rigor of the gene has distracted us from the "tangled bank" that life at all levels, from bacterial cell to ecosystem to economy, seems to exemplify. Error tolerance -- being able to carry on in the midst of junk and in spite of "mistakes" -- seems to be more characteristic of life than exactness. That's a pleasing notion in an uptight age.

4-0 out of 5 stars a fun quick read
my eyes glazed over on the chapter with the math but i was still able to get a decent overall review of the key issues..he has his own favorite theory but acknowledges opposing ones..i respect that. i feel more ready to tackle other books on the subject, as a result ... Read more


147. The Great Human Diasporas: The History of Diversity and Evolution (Helix Books)
by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Francesco Cavalli-Sforza, Sarah Thorne
list price: $22.00
our price: $14.96
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Asin: 0201442310
Catlog: Book (1996-10-01)
Publisher: Addison Wesley Publishing Company
Sales Rank: 50440
Average Customer Review: 4.24 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

The title The Great Human Diasporas implies that this book is a history of human migration, but it is much more. It is a readable, accessible summary of the lifework of Luca Cavalli-Sforza, who has done more than anyone else to reveal the genetic makeup of human populations. Originally written in Italian with Cavalli-Sforza's filmmaker son Francesco, it maintains some qualities of an interview: The Great Human Diasporas is full of anecdotes about the Pygmies with whom Cavalli-Sforza works, the text is frequently personal yet not self-serving, and it clearly shows how he helped tie together population genetics, linguistics, and anthropology to offer a new, non-racist view of human diversity. ... Read more

Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars genes, languages, prehistoric human migrations
The most rewarding part of this popular science book is the middle, fifth to seventh chapters, in which Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Professor of Genetics at Stanford Medical School, draws on scientific research in human population genetics, in which he has been a well respected pioneer, to describe the migration of human populations beginning about 100,000 years ago out of Africa until recent times. Because patterns of genetic and linguistic evolution exhibit high intercorrelations--even though their respective elements and mechanics differ--he also cites linguistic evidence for this account of migratory prehistory.

The most valuable contribution of this book to popular understanding is that population genetics provides possibly the best though not sole scientific basis on which to construct the prehistory of human "races." By this evidence, we learn, for example, about the migration of modern Homo sapiens to Southeast Asia and Australia approximately 55,000 to 60,000 years ago or about the spread of Neolithic farmer-cultivators from the Middle East into Europe beginning about 9,000 to 10,000 years ago. I suspect that readers unfamiliar with modern human evolution will find the genetic tree of the world's populations on page 119 intriguing. The diagram shows, for example, that Northeast Asians are more closely related to Europeans than Northeast Asians are to Southeast Asians.

For as rapidly advancing a science as human population genetics, it should not be surprising that some findings are dated. Recent evidence suggests, for instance, that North Asians descended from both southern China populations that gradually migrated northward as well as Caucasian populations that migrated eastward, so that some genetic mixing all across North Asia took place and is the source of the observed racial connections between North Asians and Caucasians.

In other chapters, Cavalli-Sforza tackles related topics somewhat unevenly. His anecdotes about the African pygmies are light and sympathetic. While his description of the hominid line is accurate for the time of publication, there are more insightful not to mention updated accounts now in print. His discussion of the links between genes and culture is engaging and humane but from the standpoint of science, no better than educated. His rejoinder to the controversial The Bell Curve (1994) is scientifically persuasive.

I very much enjoyed reading this book, the first I purchased at amazon.com.

2-0 out of 5 stars Wandering through human nature
This collaboration between one of the great population geneticists and his filmmaker son promises much but lets down on delivery. The style and content of the book are uneven. Some topics are told in detail and with compelling narrative, particularly the account of L. L. Cavalli-Sforza's work since the 1960s to establish correlations among genetic, linguistic, and archaeological evidence for the history and relationships of the major human groups. Much weaker, however, is his grasp of cultural anthropology, whether in details or in methods. He attempts to convey an impression of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle (predominant through almost all of human history until the last 10,000 years) through extended references to his field research among African pygmies.

Unfortunately, though he is quite sympathetic to the pygmies and their way of life, much of the effect is lost in empty generalities (p. 16: "The forest may look gloomy to us but pygmies feel entirely at home and safe there. It is a place where little that is untoward can happen to them, where danger is limited and life very pleasant."), and his cross-cultural examples come almost exclusively from pygmies or from his personal experience of various Western Europeans. Some points of history, used as examples, are in error (Bede was an English monk who lived from 672 or 673 to 735; not a "sixth-century Irish monk" p. 80).

Cavalli-Sforza also seems to have little knowledge of modern cultural anthropology. Chapter 8 "Cultural legacies, genetic legacies" is particularly weak, treating a number of topics in a very superficial way, showing no knowledge of the huge body of literature on, among others, marriage patterns and the incest taboo, national character, or "cultural evolution". Some of the problems with this book undoubtedly rest with the translator, who seems to have chosen occasionally awkward or confusing phrasings in English.

The book is best when it recounts Cavalli-Sforza's personal experiences and the quest for a unified picture of the relations among human groups. His anecdotes and observations add a human and historical perspective to the story of population genetics, and the technical matters are explained in a comprehensible and even entertaining way. He makes a strong case that differences among human "races" are only skin deep, reflecting adaptation to different climates over the last sixty thousand years, and tells some of his own part in the battle over the IQ and race debate (recently re-ignited with the publication of _The Bell Curve_). One suspects that he would be a great conversationalist at a dinner party, and the portrait of the author (along with his substantial knowledge of human genetics and historical linguistics) is what keeps one reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars good account of human history
Great Huaman Diaspporas covers the history of humanity from its origins in Africa and how it spread through different parts of the world. It goes into homo saphiens forefathers and how homo saphiens forefathers evolved into modern man. It also deals with how gene environments influenced genes. It also deals with how language language and race developed.

Overall, a account of how humanity developed it in terms of genes, race and langage.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good, but no clear objective.
Much interesting material, and some difficult concepts explained clearly for the general lay person. However, the book has no clear objective. It is best read as a supplement to the Pulitzer Prize winning book by Jared Diamond, "Guns, Germs and Steel".

5-0 out of 5 stars Really good, I Recommend it
Ok, this will be a short one. The book is really good, I recommend it vastly. As a molecular biologist I am impressed with the expertise of L. L. Cavalli-Sforza in varios areas of science. He does not only manage to comunicate in an easy manner the complexities of genetics and molecular biology (related to this subject), but also accomplishes to clarify lots of linguistic information gathered through his life studies. This last topic was the hardest for me to understand, though I believe language studies are not easy. So, as said in the beginning, this book is highly recommended. ... Read more


148. A Primer of Ecological Genetics
by Jeffrey K. Conner, Daniel L. Hartl
list price: $34.95
our price: $34.95
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Asin: 087893202X
Catlog: Book (2004-02-01)
Publisher: Sinauer Associates
Sales Rank: 253396
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Book Description

This book covers basic concepts in population and quantitative genetics, including measuring selection on phenotypic traits. The emphasis is on material applicable to field studies of evolution focusing on ecologically important traits. Topics addressed are critical for training students in ecology, evolution, conservation biology, agriculture, forestry, and wildlife management.

Many texts in this field are too complex and mathematical to allow the average beginning student to readily grasp the key concepts. A Primer of Ecological Genetics, in contrast, employs mathematics and statistics—fully explained, but at a less advanced level—as tools to improve understanding of biological principles. The main goal is to enable students to understand the concepts well enough that they can gain entry into the primary literature. Integration of the different chapters of the book shows students how diverse concepts relate to each other. ... Read more


149. Principles of Molecular Virology (Book with CD-ROM)
by Alan Cann
list price: $44.95
our price: $44.95
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Asin: 0121585336
Catlog: Book (2001-03-15)
Publisher: Academic Press
Sales Rank: 330391
Average Customer Review: 3.78 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Principles of Molecular Virology, Third Edition provides an essential introduction to modern virology in a clear and concise manner. It is a highly enjoyable and readable text with numerous illustrations that enhance the reader's understanding of important principles. This edition has been updated and revised with new figures and text.
It also includes a CD-ROM with material that complements the text. The CD-ROM includes interactive tutorials, virtual experiments and multiple-choice questions.

Key Features
* New to 3E:
* Viruses and Apoptosis (Chapter 6)
* Bacteriophages and Human Disease (Chapter 7)
* Learning objectives for each chapter
* Pronunciation section in Glossary and abbreviations section (Appendix 1)
* Key events in the history of virology (Appendix 3)
* Addition of colour in text and figures to enhance understanding of key points
* Inclusion of CD containing interactive learning resources to complement text, e.g. tutorials, MCQ's, Virtual experiments, PPT slide set containing lecture notes; Different CD with standard and Instructor's edition
* Virology on-line section - encourages readers to access the Internet to find further information
* Also:
* Self assessment questions at the end of each chapter
* Classification of Subcellular Infectious agents
* Approx. 20% new material and completely revised throughout
* Over 120 figures
... Read more

Reviews (9)

4-0 out of 5 stars Virology in an understandable manner
Well, let's see, molecular virology is definitely a hard-to understand science. Fortunately, for begginers like me, A.J Cann wrote this book. I think it is an awesome one, but it has its drawbacks.
Pros: Easy to read ( i mean, critical concepts, especially genetics, come up very clearly ), relatively easy to understand, and final review questions that really stick concepts in your mind. Also excellent prospective view about why molecular virology is important.
Cons: Not enough pictures. Imagination is a useful tool, but not that much ! This is why this superb book deserves only 4 stars. Still, it is worth the money, and belongs to the shelf of every virologist or infectious disease expert/fan/student.

4-0 out of 5 stars Respectable beginning text on virology.
I took virology while in med school, and it made less sense to me then neuroscience did at first. Part of that was the presentation methods of the professors, and part of it was their refusal to use or even recommend a decent textbook to refer to. I found the monster books on virology they place in the reference section of the medical school library, but trying to afford those books on your own is impossible. And they were so technical and so detailed, that it did not give a decent overview of the field and you had to use the index to find what you wanted. Too big.

This book by Cann is a good addition to anyone interested in the field of virology. Since the emergence of new or at least never seen before diseases, more people are wanting to familiarize themselves with viruses, and now prions. I was a little disappointed at the short chapter on prions, but since this was on viruses I was expecting more than he needed to deliver. The text is well-written and concise, but limited in historical background which I think adds to understanding and interest. Placing discoveries of science in context of social and cultural background helps to tie primary information in with other memory, so that that information can be recalled. Since there are other books which provide the historical overview of the discovery of viruses and means to control them (vaccinations, etc.) it isn't absolutely necessary for this text to explain it. It just a personal preference I have where I think science should be placed in context of social and cultural norms, and the public health history aids in understanding why developing vaccines for some diseases was given priority over others.

This is a good and inexpensive book which can be referred back to for papers. I would highly recommend this particular text for those who are in virology classes, where the professors are not explaining to your understanding or satisfaction, or when you need to know more about the genetic makeup of viruses, or their ability to use normal cells to reproduce. Karen Sadler, Science Education, University of Pittsburgh

1-0 out of 5 stars Descent book on virology
The way the concepts are presented in this text book are far from being fair. They are poorly demonstrated and use of pictures is poor. While it serves its use in giving information on virology at a great price, it fails in comparison to other books, while double the price, worth it in every way. I recommend saving up and getting either Medical Virology, 4th ED or Sherris Medical Microbiology; either one is good and far better then this title - as well as providing way more information, the latter book includes key concepts in immunology, parasitology and indepth on bacteriology. Don't be fooled by the price, this information isn't presented clearly to learn virology off of. If you're serious in learning about virology and/or infectious diseases, check out first the books stated above first.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent summary of the field; easy to read
I'm not a biologist, but having developed an interest in virology, I searched for a book that would explain the basic principles in an understandable manner without too much jargon and too detailed illustrations or explanations (or too high a cost!). This book provides an overview of the field and sufficiently detailed but understandable information on virus structure and processes. Written well, it is a readable text with numerous illustrations that enhance understanding of important principles. Frankly, it was also enjoyable to read. The chapters in some detail cover the viral processes like attachment and replication, the genome, and infection and the immune system responses. Both plant and human viruses are studied, and specific examples such as the picornaviruses (polioviruses), TMV, adenoviruses, retroviruses, and HHV/HIV are specifically mentioned in each chapter, adding example to observation. The author is also not shy about telling us where molecular virology is lacking information, which should provide clues for graduate students looking for research topics. What info the author does include (and this book is wealthy in facts) is presented clearly and understandably, so that a beginner like myself or even an intermediate student would find this a useful reference. This is a great book for anyone who has a working level of scientific training in any field. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for more understanding of the microbial universe -- based on the text, I have a better perspective on the competition and cooperation between microbes. What fascinated me most is that the book details, without specifically stating it, the intelligence at work in creating and sustaining the viral structures, in helping them become a success even though their success is a detriment to humans.

5-0 out of 5 stars Finally an understandable book on virology!
As a neuroscience student, I took a class on virology that I wasn't required to take. However, since I was working on AIDS and rabies, I decided I needed the background. Between the bad teaching and the horrible textbook, I ended up taking an audit in the class and came away from it very confused. This book managed to simply clarify everything that those supposedly distinquished professors of virology and the writers of the textbooks for the class couldn't do. Now as a science educator I am always horrified at how scientists take simple ideas and subjects and make them difficult for students or laypersons to understand. That isn't the motive for teaching science or at least shouldn't be. This text on virology is understandable to everyone, especially if someone like me who is deaf and therefore has English reading skills that are different from the norm can comprehend what the author is saying. All I can say to this author is Bravo, and why aren't you writing more! Karen L. Sadler, Science Education, University of Pittsburgh ... Read more


150. Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays, Vol. 3
by Elwyn R. Berlekamp, John Conway, Richard Guy, John Horton Conway, Richard K. Guy
list price: $49.00
our price: $49.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1568811438
Catlog: Book (2003-09-01)
Publisher: AK Peters, Ltd.
Sales Rank: 125335
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In the quarter of a century since three mathematicians and game theorists collaborated to create Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays, the book has become the definitive work on the subject of mathematical games. Now carefully revised and broken down into four volumes to accommodate new developments, the second edition retains the original's wealth of wit and wisdom. The authors' insightful strategies, blended with their witty and irreverent style, make reading a profitable pleasure.

In Volume 3, the authors examine Games played in Clubs, giving case studies for coing and paper-and-pencil games, such as Dots-and-Boxes and Nimstring. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable discussion of many interesting games
Starting with Hackenbush (thanks to Groucho Marx) this book describes and analyzes a great many interesting games. While the authors are mathematicians, and there is mathematics involved, much of the discussion can be followed by the lay reader. ... Read more


151. DNA Technology : The Awesome Skill
by I. Edward Alcamo
list price: $73.95
our price: $73.95
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Asin: 0120489201
Catlog: Book (2000-04-14)
Publisher: Academic Press
Sales Rank: 588226
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

DNA Technology, Second Edition, is a survey of biotechnology written to enlighten readers about the breakthroughs made possible by the science and technologies associated with current DNA research. Ed Alcamo gives the educated layperson a survey of DNA by presenting a brief history of genetics, a clear outline of techniques that are in use, and indications of breakthroughs in cloning and other DNA advances. Appropriate for a wide range of courses for non-biology majors, including a ODNA for Lawyers course or allied health and nursing courses.

* An introductory treatment of aspects of DNA technology written to enlighten the reader about the breakthroughs made possible by the science and technologies associated with DNA
* Emphasizes the practical implications and applications of the new genetic technologies; readers will come away saying, "So that's what DNA technology is all about!"
* Helps students, business people, lawyers, and jurists gain more confidence in their ability to to understand and appreciate DNA technology and human genetics
* Persons with genetic diseases will gain a clearer understanding of their afflictions and understand the bases for possible cures
* Agriculturists will have insight into the genetic basis for gene-altered plants and animals
* The general public will better appreciate the nature and reasons for the Human Genome Project now in progress
... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
Easy read, topics explained well. Would definitely recommend this book for anyone wanting to learn more about biotechnology.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Book for Beginners
This is a great book for beginners - easy to understand, yet you can grasp some big pictures. Serious learners might want to look for more advanced level books, as I had to use other books whenever I needed to learn in depth.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best academic general guide
Are you looking for something usefull and can be understood clearly at the first time?This is the most helpfull guide if you are not proffessio nally working on a research.For collegers and Eastern universities:Ferfect introduction to the field.Do not worry not to having enought experience on the field.This book will carry you to where ever you want to go. ... Read more


152. The Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs
by David E. Fastovsky, David B. Weishampel
list price: $120.00
our price: $120.00
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Asin: 0521811724
Catlog: Book (2005-01-31)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 1170825
Average Customer Review: 4.14 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Written for non-specialists, this detailed survey of dinosaur origins, diversity, and extinction is designed as a series of successive essays covering important and timely topics in dinosaur paleobiology, such as "warm-bloodedness," birds as living dinosaurs, the new, non-flying feathered dinosaurs, dinosaur functional morphology, and cladistic methods in systematics. Its explicitly phylogenetic approach to the group is that taken by dinosaur specialists. The book is not an edited compilation of the works of many individuals, but a unique, cohesive perspective on Dinosauria. Lavishly illustrated with hundreds of new, specially commissioned illustrations by John Sibbick, world-famous illustrator of dinosaurs, the volume includes multi-page drawings as well as sketches and diagrams.First edition Hb (1996): 0-521-44496-9David E. Fastovsky is Professor of Geosciences at the University of Rhode Island. Fastovsky, the author of numerous scientific publications dealing with Mesozoic vertebrate faunas and their ancient environments, is also scientific co-Editor of Geology. He has undertaken extensive fieldwork studying dinosaurs and their environments in Montana, North Dakota, Arizona, Mexico, and Mongolia.David B. Weishampel is a professor at the Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution at Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine. Weishampel is best known for discovering, researching, and naming several rare European dinosaur species. During the 1980s Weishampel gained fame for his work with American paleontologist Jack Horner and later named the famous plant-eating, egg-laying Orodromeus, Horner. Now, a decade after his pioneering studies with Horner, Weishampel is most widely known for his current work on the Romanian dinosaur fauna. He is the author and co-author of many titles, including The Dinosaur Papers, 1676-1906 (Norton, 2003); The Dinosauria, (University of California, 1990); and Dinosaurs of the East Coast, (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996). ... Read more

Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs
The Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs written by David E. Fastovsky and David B. Weishampel is primarily designed as a textbook. Although very readable this text can be used as a resource, the chapters build sequentially reflecting the nature our the science.

The idea within this text is simple: to use dinosaurs as an attractive vehicle to understand aspects of natural history. The dinosaurs are presented here in a phylogenetic context. The prose of phylogenetic systematics, however, can be rather vexing. For this reason, chapters in which the great groups of dinosaurs are discussed individually -in particular, Chapters 6 through 12- are organized in consistant fashion, making it easier for skimming the descriptions and systematic paleontology by going to the "Paleobiology and Paleoecology sections in the above chapters.

This text presents dinosaurs as professionals understand them... the study of dinosaurs has much to do with the history of life and of the earth, with the nature of nature, and with who we are. There are several photographs provided by museums and institutions giving the book greatly needed illustration.

Because dinosaurs have been known since 1818, a good deal is understood; by the same token, a 20-year-old revolution in methods of studying them has only in the last 10 really begun to overturn long-held ideas about them and their 160-million-year history on earth.

This textbook is divided into four parts where each part has subsequent chapters and is very well organized. The parts are:

Part 1: Setting the Stage... here we have five chapters, The introduction; The Mesozoic Era: Back to the Past; Discovering Order in the Natural World; Interrelationships of the Vertebrates; and The Origin of Dinosauria.

Part 2: Ornithischia... here we have five chapters, Stegosauria: Hot Plates; Ankylosauria: Mass and Gas;
Pachycephalosauria: Head-To-Head, with malice aforethought; Ceratopsia: Horns, Frills, and Slice-And-Dice; Ornithopoda: The Tuskers, Antelopes, and the Mightly Ducks of the Mesozoic

Part 3: Saurischia... here we have three chapters, Sauropodomorpha: The Big, The Bizarre, and The Majestic; Theropoda I: Nature Red in Tooth and Claw; and Theropoda II: The Origins of Birds.

Part 4: Endothermy, Environments, and Extinction where there are four chapters, Dinosaur Endothermy: Some Like it Hot; Dinosaurs in Space and Time; Reconstructing Extinctions: The Art of Science; and The Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction: The Frill is Gone.

There is an extensive glossary, taxonomic index of genera, and subject index helping to reader along and for further information. If you treat this book as a textbook you can use the information found in this book to further your knowledge in the realm of dinosauria.

This is a solid 4 star book filled with information. It may read dryly at times but the information contained within its pages is invaluable.

4-0 out of 5 stars While a Good Book, I Agree It Is Unnecessarily Dry
After reading this book---not for a class---as well as all the reviews below, I also agree with the reviewer from Albuquerque that this text could have been better written. Mr. Brackett, in his criticisms of this reviewer's comments seems to assume much about the reviewer's character and comments based upon the reviewer's status as a student, without really addressing the reviewer's comments. This book DOES err in overly emphasizing the technical at the expense of descriptive or a vivid reconstruction of a natural history of dinosaurs, and cladisitic studies, while necessary and appropriate, do dominate the text. While this is perhaps to be expected, based upon the context, subject and background of the authors, there is little question that a work such as this could offer far more if it were written with a broader emphasis upon a recreation of its subject, while at the same time including the technical data necessary for a full comprehension of the subject. Technical and academic writers often tend to write to their own peer group, without considering or being aware of the extent of their potential audience. Mr Brackett's blithe dismissal of a "student's" criticism of the text based entirely upon his or her status as a student reflects at best an attitude more exclusionary than inclusive, and does not meaningfully respond to the student's criticisms of this text. While this book remains the benchmark of texts upon the subject, there is little question that it could be written with greater verve and expression of the interest that the subject should inherently generate. After all, an introductory text should reach out to stimulate interest in its subject to a wide audience, and the study of dinosaurs certainly possesses no dearth of potential interest. I feel that this can be accomplished with the commensurate amount of technical detail without becoming the artifact of Pop culture Mr. Brackett seems so afraid of.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Book Out There About Dinosaurs For Educated Dino-Fans
I cannot say enough good things about this text! It covers the bulk of the dinosaur research up to the time that writing of the book ended and does so in a fairly unjudgmental fashion. It makes a point to show the multiple views of the arguments found within its covers. The authors' writing is also in a style that encourages the reader to continue reading, and is quite lively in places which gives new "spring" to the reader's "steps" as they journey through.

This book starts by introducing the reader to fossils and their collecting. It then sets the stage of "when" the book is speaking of so as to aid the reader's understanding of the subject. In setting this "when" the book discusses subjects like plate tectonics, stratigraphy and climatology. It then explains about how paleontology classifies creatures and a bit about organic evolution. After this the book talks of the relationships between the various animals out in the world which have backbones, collectively called vertebrates. This is the first four chapters and 94 pages setting the stage for the reader. Some may describe this as "boring" but it is necessary for a greater understanding of the dinosaur section of the text. In chapter five we are introduced to the origin of dinosaurs both as animals in the Mesozoic Time and in modern science in the 19th Century. This ends Part I of the text.

Parts II & III, 8 chapters and 216 pages, are where all the dinosaur lovers want to be - the parts that actually discuss the various types of dinosaurs. Part II talks of Ornithischia or "bird-hipped" dinosaurs while Part III is about Saurischia or "lizard-hipped" dinosaurs. What is absolutely inspired is the structure of each of the dinosaur chapters. Each chapter starts speaking of the history of the discoveries of that type of dinosaur's fossils. It then defines that general type of dinosaur and proceeds with talking about the diversity of that type and its evolutionary path. After that the book takes the reader into the Paleobiology and Paleoecology on that dinosaur type - the FUN STUFF! Why is it the FUN STUFF? Because most of these sections of each of these chapters is educated dreaming or speculation. The authors speak on a variety of matters such as the feeding, reproductive and social habits of these animals and they do so credibly without resorting to uncontrolled flights of fancy.

Part IV carries the learning experience on through some final serious issues concerning dinosaurs. Were they endothermic or "warm-blooded"? How were they distributed through the Mesozoic Era? What is an extinction? Lastly, what is and caused the Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction where dinosaurs disappeared? What is commendable is that the authors describe all of the possible theories for the dinosaurs' extinction.

Some prior reviewers have made disparaging comments on the illustrations and diagrams found herein. I, too, wish there were more illustrations and diagrams, especially artwork and illustrations from some of the leading artisans in the PaleoArt field. BUT I have purchased enough textbooks in my college career to realize that the authors have made some financial considerations for those who would be buying this book. If they had acquired what could be considered a dreamy-level of quality illustrations for this book, my experience dictates that this volume would have been as much as 75% more expensive, thereby being almost useless to its main target audience, "Intro to Paleo" students. Why? Because no college faculty member would expect ones students to spend such an outrageous amount on an intro text. Simply, lots of high quality art is nice, but is extremely expensive because the artists and their work are worth a goodly sum.

In closing, I must comment on a prior reviewer's review. The reviewer had several complaints. Too much cladistics, too many chronologies, too much on evolutionary relationships, laughable illustrations and poor writing to only name a few of them. I feel that the reviewer should not have reviewed this book. Why? Because all the reviewer is doing is whining about how this book (and most likely the reviewer's Intro-to-Paleo professor) did not spoon-feed the reviewer enough. The reviewer wanted an introductory hard science class to be of the hand-feeding sort that a documentary for general-public consumption can be, and that expectation is unreasonable, but unfortunately typical in this day and age. I am not saying that "Walking With Dinosaurs" was a documentary series with poor science in it. I am saying that anyone who has the expectation that a hard science book and class, even an introductory one, is going to be written like "pop" TV needs to have another look at reality. If someone wants a dinosaur book of the entertainment-only variety, I would direct them to any of the quality children's-level volumes from DK publishing. If those are still not entertaining enough, then the only stop left of any quality would be The Magic Schoolbus series for elementary/primary school children. Otherwise, if you, the reader, can handle some science and like dinosaurs, this book by Fastovsky and Weishampel is the book to springboard you into the exciting and challenging area called Dinosaur Vertebrate Paleontology!

2-0 out of 5 stars Dry and Overly Devoted to Cladistic Studies
This was the required text for a class I recently attended. Despite earlier reviewers' accolades, I found this work exceedingly dry, with pages upon pages devoted to morphology, philogeny and cladograms, in some cases the bulk of individual chapters. While all of this is obviously important, little is present descriptively in terms of what individual species may have looked like, beyond their bone structure, the environments they inhabited, or the natural history of their lives. Instead, pages upon pages are devoted to chronologies of when individual species were first discovered and where, as well as cladograms diagramming where evolutionarily each species and family exists. The former, when occupying much of the book, is tiresome, and the latter, while helpful, without further descriptive and narrative substance exists only as a sterile evolutionary chronology. And, I agree, the illustrations are rather laughable in terms of skill of rendering.

If this is the best that is available, as some reviewers have asserted, then the state of paleontological writing is very poor indeed. Someone who can actually write, beyond the technical, needs desperately to be found who can infuse some descriptive life into these reading. While the actual subjects may long be dead, there is no reason for the readings to be, as is evidenced in the recent and largely excellent, if at times speculative, Discovery series "Walking with Dinosaurs." And teachers need to be aware that while they may salivate over the technical details of their particular subject or area of interest, the average student will hardly find such dry detail by itself particularly captivating.

5-0 out of 5 stars outstanding
As an avid dinosaur buff, this undergraduate level textbook is a mandatory part of one's collection. The text is very readable yet complete, filling a void between child-oriented dinosaur books and books written for professional paleontologists. I must confess I could not put the book down. Although it is several hundred pages in length, I read the book in less than a week. Topics range from basic dinosaur paleontology to special subjects such as the evolutionary relationship between dinosaurs and birds. If you are a dino-phile, this textbook is a must-read.

Brett J. Guinn, MD ... Read more


153. DNA Science: A First Course, Second Edition
by David Micklos, Greg A. Freyer
list price: $45.00
our price: $45.00
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Asin: 0879696362
Catlog: Book (2003-01-08)
Publisher: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
Sales Rank: 255294
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This is the second edition of a highly successful textbook (over 50,000 copies sold) in which a highly illustrated, narrative text is combined with easy–to–use thoroughly reliable laboratory protocols. It contains a fully up–to–date collection of 12 rigorously tested and reliable lab experiments in molecular biology, developed at the internationally renowned Dolan DNA Learning Center of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which culminate in the construction and cloning of a recombinant DNA molecule.

Proven through more than 10 years’ of teaching at research and nonresearch colleges and universities, junior colleges, community colleges, and advanced biology programs in high school, this book has been successfully integrated into introductory biology, general biology, genetics, microbiology, cell biology, molecular genetics, and molecular biology courses.

The first eight chapters have been completely revised, extensively rewritten, and updated. The new coverage extends to the completion of the draft sequence of the human genome and the enormous impact these and other sequence data are having on medicine, research, and our view of human evolution. All sections on the concepts and techniques of molecular biology have been updated to reflect the current state of laboratory research.

The laboratory experiments cover basic techniques of gene isolation and analysis, honed by over 10 years of classroom use to be thoroughly reliable, even in the hands of teachers and students with no prior experience. Extensive prelab notes at the beginning of each experiment explain how to schedule and prepare, while flow charts and icons make the protocols easy to follow.

As in the first edition of this book, the laboratory course is completely supported by quality–assured products from the Carolina Biological Supply Company, from bulk reagents, to useable reagent systems, to single–use kits, thus satisfying a broad range of teaching applications. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars spotless
This book is the best book on the subject on the market. The subject matter is juxtaposed by easy yet informative experiments that can be carried out in a normal scholastic setting. I hear the writers are all hotties. ... Read more


154. The Rise of Fishes: 500 Million Years of Evolution
by John A. Long
list price: $41.00
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Asin: 0801854385
Catlog: Book (1996-09-01)
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Sales Rank: 414373
Average Customer Review: 4.75 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars A FASCINATING JOURNEY BACK THROUGH TIME
Curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Western Australian Museum in Perth, Western Australia, John A. Long is a thoughtful scholar. He writes in his introduction, "The story of fishes through time is also the story of changing continents and climates, devastating mass extinctions, and changing faunas and floras."

So begins a fascinating journey back through our planet's distant ages to begin the story of the evolution of fishes - the first creatures to have a skeleton. Armosred fishes, monster sharks, fishes with arms and fishes that breathe are all characters in this ongoing panorama of life then and now.

Some 220 vibrant color photographs plus numerous color drawings and black and white photos enhance this meticulously prepared volume.

For those with an interest in evolution, fossils or fish, The Rise of Fishes is not to be missed.

- Gail Cooke

5-0 out of 5 stars Easy to read evolutionary history of fishes
Easy to read, containing hundreds of color illustrations, this reference nonetheless gives a detailed evolutionary history of the fishes. The reference starts with tunicates, cephalochordates and conodonts and moves on to the agnatha, sharks and the extinct acanthodians and placoderms. The emergence of the bony fish (class osteichthyes) in the late Silurian is then discussed. Major groups of this class include the ray-finned fishes (actinopterygii), the predatory lobe-finned fishes (crossopterygii) and the lungfishes (dipnoi), and each is discussed in more detail. The final chapter of the reference discusses the evolutionary transition from fish to tetrapod.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fossil fish with a slight "Aussie" bias.
John A. Long, a vertebrate paleontologist in Perth, is proud of the fossil record found in Austrialia. In this book he presents a manageable overview, encompassing 500 million years of fish evolution, with some interesting anecdotes about his own research. Long is a talented writer and brilliant scientific educator with a gentle, but obvious, bias towards the "land down under". The Rise of Fishes is well organized and beautifully illustrated. Photography of fossil specimens and locations is artfully presented. The chapters on lungfish development and tetrapod evolution (independent of one another) are easily understood and well documented sections. It's certainly one of the most visually compelling reference books available for the amateur fossil hunter or professional icthyologist/vertebrate paleontologist.

5-0 out of 5 stars An authorative synopsis of the evolution of fishes downunder
John Long presents a beautifully illustrated summary of the 500 million year evolution of arguably the most successful of the chordate faunas. If you have found the exclusion of Australian fishes from general texts on marine evolution irritating, then you'll be pleased at the wealth of information and photograph's on Australian - Gondwanaland - fishes that is contained within these pages. John is vertebrate curator at the West Australian Museum, has published over 80 scientific papers, and is author of the book "Dinosaurs of Australia and New Zealand ...". If you are a professional Paleontologist, or aspire to be, or an enthusiastic fossil-hunter, then this book is cumpulsory reading. Order it today! ... Read more


155. The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation
by Matt Ridley
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
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Asin: 0140264450
Catlog: Book (1998-04-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 22962
Average Customer Review: 4.06 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

If, as Darwin suggests, evolution relentlessly encourages the survival of the fittest, why are humans compelled to live in cooperative, complex societies? In this fascinating examination of the roots of human trust and virtue, a zoologist and former American editor of the Economist reveals the results of recent studies that suggest that self-interest and mutual aid are not at all incompatible. In fact, he points out, our cooperative instincts may have evolved as part of mankind's natural selfish behavior--by exchanging favors we can benefit ourselves as well as others.Brilliantly orchestrating the newest findings of geneticists, psychologists, and anthropologists, The Origins of Virtue re-examines the everyday assumptions upon which we base our actions towards others, whether in our roles as parents, siblings, or trade partners. With the wit and brilliance of The Red Queen, his acclaimed study of human and animal sexuality, Matt Ridley shows us how breakthroughs in computer programming, microbiology, and economics have given us a new perspective on how and why we relate to each other.

•Ridley's previous book, The Red Queen, was short-listed for the Writers' Guild Award for nonfiction.
... Read more

Reviews (33)

5-0 out of 5 stars Engaging and quixotic arguments, but with rigour underneath
Matt Ridley is a British science journalist who has the estimable quality of relying on facts rather than opinions to make his case. In this short, highly readable book he puts forward the evolutionary biologist's theory for the existence of human cooperation and altruism, and he does it brilliantly. The depth and breadth of material covered is extraordinary, and this book well rewards repeated readings (always the sign of good science writing).

From an introductory description of the ideas of Kropotkin, through game theory and Evolutionarily Stable Strategies, to a discussion of free market economics as the 'best fit' to human models of social cooperation, Ridley introduces a wealth of meticulously researched material with sufficient digs at current bien-pensant wisdom on the acquisition of culture to make the average sociologist's hair stand on end.

Matt Ridley writes a weekly column (Acid Test) in the UK broadsheet newspaper The Daily Telegraph, and his customary penetrating analysis of accepted cultural and environmental theory is always a joy to read. He brings this penetrating style to bear on some of the shibboleths of modern sociology (there is a particularly devastating broadside reserved for the egregious Margaret Mead and her band of fellow travelers in the 'Culture Makes Mind' school).

The book concludes (rashly, as even the author acknowledges) with a defense of economic libertarianism. Ridley attempts to show that the whole panoply of cheater-detectors, enlightened self interest and Ricardo-esque comparative advantage that characterises the evolution-moulded systems of human altruism and socialisation can be used to argue in favour of a market-based, minimally interventionist society in which trade is as little hampered by government (or other) interference as possible. Although attempting to introduce economic theory into a work on biology might seem strange, it links in well with the lessons drawn from earlier sections of the book that demonstrate that extra-group commerce is a uniquely human activity. It should also be remembered that an economic analysis of human nature is far from new: the great F. A. Hayek analysed just such a thesis, although his work predates this book by many years.

In summary: a marvellous and rewarding book; extremely highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This book should definitely be on your short list of books to read if you are at all interested in what makes us humans behave as we do. The prior review by David Gillies sums up the books nicely. I would just like to add one further detail.

The modern intelligentsia and media have portrayed Native Americans and other Aboriginal peoples as conservationists and environmentalists who were stewards of the earth's resources and were 'at one with nature'. If this is true, then it largely refutes Ridley's whole argument. Ridley devotes a whole chapter to this ( Chapter 11 - Ecology as Religion ) and shows that it is a complete myth. Some of the facts he adduces: Shortly after 'Native Americans' arrived in North America, 73% of the large mammals were exterminated and became extinct. Shortly after man arrived in South America, 80% of the large mammals were exterminated and became extinct. As the Polynesians colonized the Pacific, they extinguished 20% of all the bird species on earth. At Olsen-Chubbock, the site of ancient bison massacres in Colorado, where people regularly stampeded herds over a cliff, the animals lay in such heaps after a successful stampede that only the ones on the top were butchered, and only the best joints were taken from them. If you are incredulous - read the book, all the sources are there. Ridley's final conclusion is that the limitations of technology or demand, rather than a culture of self-restraint or religious respect, is what kept tribal people from overexploiting their environment. One nice touch is Ridley's quote of Chief Seattle's speech which Al Gore includes in his book 'Earth in the Balance'.

"How can you buy or sell the sky? The Land?...Every part of this earth is sacred to my people..."

This quote would seem to establish Native Americans as the original environmentalists. Unfortunately, the speech was never given. It was written by Ted Perry, in 1971, for an ABC television drama. Who says TV doesn't shape our perception of reality. ( It seems poor Gore is out of touch or is it calculated deception? How could he be expected to know that Chief Seattle owned slaves and killed almost all his enemies. ) If you are incensed over this, maybe ecology is a religion for you? Politically incorrect stuff to be sure. All this to establish that humans have a 'nature' which transcends their cultural milieu.

I highly recommend the book.

4-0 out of 5 stars read another book by Ridley
Matt Ridley is my favorite popular science writer, but this is his worst book. Maybe it's not that bad, but his others are much better, especially "Genome" and "The Red Queen."

Anyway, a lot of research has been done since "The Origins of Virtue" was published. In its time it was better than it is now, but I recommend getting a more recently written book instead.

As above, I especially recommend "Genome" and "The Red Queen."

But here are some other books you may want to check out before deciding what to purchase:

Jared Diamond's classic "Guns, Germs and Steel"

Robert Wright's "The Moral Animal" (predates "Origins of Virtue" but is still better)

Steven Pinker's "The Blank Slate"

Sarah Hrdy's "Mother Nature"

Pascal Boyer's "Religion Explained"

3-0 out of 5 stars I liked all but the conclusion
This is a belated review... penned after reading Ridley's more recent book "Genome" and making some casual comparisons.

Where "Genome" stays on its track, "Origins of Virtue" gets rather derailed. Skip the final chapter and you'll enjoy this book. (Or if you're a Libertarian then read ONLY the last chapter and feel vindicated.)

For the most part it's a fine book, one of those rare science books that's entertaining to read. Ridley ties together biology, economics, sociology, anthropology, game theory and more to show how humans (and many other creatures, even at the cellular level) have evolved to be naturally cooperative: being generous has benefits apart from esteem-building.

The problem I have with the book is that Ridley, after leading the reader chapter by chapter through a terrific set of examples and specific experiments and demonstrating the inherent ability of humans (and many other animals) to form first and second order, mutually beneficial alliances, and behave in what appears (on the surface) to be an altruistic manner with no need for religion, government or culture to prompt them, goes on to present a view of government that is pure Newt Gingrich (or Adam Smith) in its philosophy. His final chapters deal with humans' failures as environmental custodians (debunking the myth of the noble savage), proposing that unfettered private property rights are the only way humans can protect the environment for the common good. His logic seems good on the surface but he leaves out a critical point: properties are bought and sold like any other exploitable resource. He does say at one point that currency speculation is a "zero sum game", but so is property speculation based on resource extraction. This view, where a private owner (such as Weyerhauser to use a Northwest example) is assumed to do what is for the common good simply because they are (in theory) thinking long-term and wisely using land that they (or more precisely, their shareholders) own is clearly false. The result is just a "value-added" phenomenon whereby the low-profit, high-efficiency forest is converted (over time) into a sprawling, high-profit but low-efficiency housing development, or golf course, or commercial park. What's good for the property owner is often not good for the society.

That aside, the book is fine, entertaining and thought-provoking.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Biological Argument for Loving Your Neighbor
Too often, science and religion are placed at opposite ends of a continuum that does not necessarily reflect reality. Both science and religion are different methods of searching for the truth.

This book does a surprisingly good job of highlighting the often shocking truth that religion and science are not mutually exclusive. What is most amazing is that Ripley's scientific explanations shed such great light on many of the fundamental problems most Christians ponder every day.

Why is it better to give than to receive? Why should we turn the other cheek? Ripley approaches the problem from a scientific perspective, but the truths are universal. Cooperating with each other is always more productive than destroying each other.

The greatest gift of this book is exposing warfare for what it truly is -- a biological remnant of our animal nature. Ripley's grace is to provide a "scientific" explanation for Christ's charge to love your neighbor as yourself. The world will never be the same. ... Read more


156. Numerical Optimization
by Jorge Nocedal, Stephen J. Wright
list price: $79.95
our price: $67.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0387987932
Catlog: Book (1999-08-27)
Publisher: Springer-Verlag
Sales Rank: 149937
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

NUMERICAL OPTIMIZATION presents a comprehensive and up-to-date description of the most effective methods in continuous optimization. It responds to the growing interest in optimization in engineering, science, and business by focusing on the methods that are best suited to practical problems.

Drawing on their experiences in teaching, research, and consulting, the authors have produced a textbook that will be of interest to students and practitioners alike. Each chapter begins with the basic concepts and builds up gradually to the best techniques currently available.

Because of the emphasis on practical methods, as well as the extensive illustrations and exercises, the book is accessible to a wide audience. It can be used as a graduate text in engineering, operations research, mathematics, computer science, and business. It also serves as a handbook for researchers and practitioners in the area.

Above all, the authors have strived to produce a text that is pleasant to read, informative and rigorous--one that reveals both the beautiful nature of the discipline and its practical side. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Teaches good mathematical programming techniques
The book does a very good job in teaching non-discrete mathematical programming techniques. But, it is not an introductory book. The reader is supposed to know linear algebra and numerical analysis to a certain extent. Most of the modern techniques are presented, but the layout is a little chaotic- the sequence of subjects could be made better. So, I would have preferred to give it 4.5 stars (which is impossible). However, that does not take away the fact that the book is excellent. I have used it primarily for modelling financial portfolios, and I am sure it can be used as a guide for other applications.

Conclusion: A little difficult, but well worth the time and money involved

4-0 out of 5 stars Nice but could be better!
This book by Nocedal and Wright has several attractive features. For one, it is probably the most "state-of-the-art" of the existing texts in optimization and as such covers most of the modern methods. It also has a nice section on LP (simplex as well as interior point methods) for someone interested in a course on optimization as opposed to NONLINEAR optimization (which is what I was looking for). Another strength is that it covers many of the algebra-related details very well. My only major complaint is that it seems to not get into any of the methods designed specifically for convex programs - these while admittedly less general are often very powerful. For example, there is NO mention even of Geometric Programming which has wide application in design. The convex simplex method also isn't mentioned anywhere. Finally,I wonder why there is no mention of the generalized reduced gradient (GRG) method.

All in all, a good book to own I think... ... Read more


157. Biochemistry & Genetics: PreTest Self-Assessment & Review
by Golder N. Wilson
list price: $24.95
our price: $24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0071375783
Catlog: Book (2001-08-06)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill/Appleton & Lange
Sales Rank: 215060
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Gives medical students 500 questions, answers, and explanations to prepare for the biochemistry and genetics sections of the USMLE Step 1. The new edition includes many new questions in the two-step clinical format to simulate the USMLE Step 1. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Great question & review book
I found this book very helpful in my step 1 prepertion most of all helped me with Molecular biology questions in my actual test and is also great for genetics, over all the more questions you do from this book the more it boosts your confidence in Biochemistry in the real exam specially if you were like me (an IMG)whose Biochemistry background is weak and feel like practicing more questions, you will definitely make use of this book

4-0 out of 5 stars helpful and good assistent in your study
it is easy to use and is giving the most popular type of question you need to pass USMLE step I so I recommended it for everybody who wants to pass the step with high score as I am doing . ... Read more


158. High-Yield Cell and Molecular Biology
by Ronald W. Dudek
list price: $24.95
our price: $24.95
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Asin: 0683303597
Catlog: Book (1999-08-15)
Publisher: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Sales Rank: 80758
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Very High Yield!
High yield cell and molecular biology is exactly what it says, and from the outset doesn't pretend to be anything else. "Lean efficient text" says the blurb, "Study guides with the barest essentials". These words certainly comforted me after reading the somewhat ominous title! The text is compact, with clear and helpful diagrams illustrating and clarifying the most difficult concepts in the book. The style is in fact very much the same as I might choose to write own revision notes, with chapters divided into sub-titles, and those into bullet points. Key words are emboldened, so it is possible to absorb a page by only scanning the bold type; useful if you are caught short when preparing for an exam and need the facts quickly! There is a smattering of clinical examples throughout, and descriptions of procedures such as PCR, which both help anchor your thoughts of the sometimes abstract nature of the subject. Being a molecular biology book it is biased toward genetics, and as this is a confusing area for many students (including me), this will help if your genetics lectures tend to sail several meters over your head. On the downside, the economic nature of the text and the no-frills nature of the diagrams mean that it is not a particularly colourful or engaging read in it's own right. This is also positive, meaning that it is easier to extract information quickly than would be possible from a more bulky text. It is clearly meant to be dipped into, rather than read cover-to-cover. Realistically though, who would read a textbook cover-to-cover? People who will benefit from this book will be pre-clinical medical students, those intercalating a BSc in clinical science or genetics, doctors requiring an up-to-date review, or other students of biomedical science. This should not be your only textbook on cellular biology and genetics, but will serve as the perfect revision tool when exams sidle up too close for comfort. ... Read more


159. An Introduction to Bioinformatics Algorithms (Computational Molecular Biology)
by Neil C. Jones, Pavel A. Pevzner
list price: $55.00
our price: $44.00
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Asin: 0262101068
Catlog: Book (2004-08-01)
Publisher: Bradford Books
Sales Rank: 34569
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Book Description

An introductory text that emphasizes the underlying algorithmic ideas that are driving advances in bioinformatics. ... Read more


160. On the Origin of Species a Facsimile of the First (Harvard Paperbacks)
by C. Darwin
list price: $16.95
our price: $16.95
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Asin: 0674637526
Catlog: Book (1975-07-01)
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Sales Rank: 79134
Average Customer Review: 4.22 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Tweaked my imagination and opened all kinds of doors. Our bookclub spent many hours hashing out ideas that this book explored. I put this on my recommend list.

5-0 out of 5 stars Answer to "Some concepts should be revised and corrected"
Some idiot wrote a review of this book as if it were a contemporary scientific publication, as if Darwin were still alive to rewrite another edition! Darwin was a great writer who used his keen mind in communicating his ideas in English. It is interesting to contrast Darwin's writings to Freud's works, which were also presented as scientific, but haven't stood up to scrutiny nearly as well. Let us also apply some of the principles of selection to Amazon reviews. Feel free to review this book if you can appreciate both the historic and literary value of Dawrins works. Otherwise, please keep your opinions to yourself.

2-0 out of 5 stars Some concepts should be revised and corrected......
I read the original version of "The origin of Species" a few years ago. As a naive secondary year student, I beleived in most of its contents. After that, when I started to think how animal behavor is programmed and how mutation (s) in such program can completely null the system as a whole, I started to ask myself how, then, these creatures (Ants, Bees,......etc) were the source of another more evoluted species or how they evolved from lower species. Actually, mutations can not attribute to the origin of such behavor(work in group, assigning the job to specific members...etc). Meanwhile, in the lab. scientists could not transform cyanobacteria to algae or bacteria to yeast.........etc. The only appreciated points of Darwin were his observations; modifications and variation. Science so far was not able to prove that life has evolved from nothing; the idea of the first cell (the first anscetor) still controversial. Meanwhile biochemical analyses proved that all creatures contain the same organic elements (N, C, H) and inorganic ones (P, S,...etc). Surperisingly, these analyses proved that Mud contain all of these elements and do not contain any toxic elements that are toxic to humans, for example. If anybody looked carefully to the DNA and how this molecule is well-arganized and how many enzymes are keeping this molecule in its normal conformation and maintain its function, He/She could get the point that cells generally are elaborately programmed; exaclty in a manner resembles that computer programs. Cells excute these programs starting from their brith to death and any change in this program cause serious problems. Fossils showed insects with the same compund eyes exactly like that insects that are surviving nowadays. Some fossils, also, showed different species, which are supposed not to be together, in the same historic era. we know also now that must of the mutations are harmful and fatal to the organisms(for example, in humans mutations cause sever diseases). Meanwhile research on HIV showed that mutations in this virus never originate a new viral species, but result in defective HIV viruses that could not replicate, assemble, and therefore not able to re infect its host to survive. Actually, similarity among the species can not prove they originated from each other(if we argue that sequence homology between Mankey and human, for example, is so close and so they are relative, this is not true). My opinion does not refute the book; it contains very old concepts that should be revised and corrected.

5-0 out of 5 stars The ¿Origin¿-al
NOTE that this is a review of the Harvard University Press facsimile of the first edition of "On the Origin of Species" (intro by Ernst Mayr). This is NOT a commentary on Darwin's text.

I blithely bought and began reading the Modern Library's "Origin", then came across this facsimile of the first edition in the library. Hmm, I wondered. I used the quotations in the front of my copy to deduce that I was reading the sixth (and last) edition, rather than the first. While that, too, has its considerable interest in illustrating the twists and turns of Darwin's thought during those years, the evolution revolution was made by the first edition. As Ernst Mayr says in his introduction, "When we go back to the Origin, we want the version that stirred up the Western world, the first edition." Besides which, if one is going to do any historical research, one needs this edition, for contemporary references use the first edition's pagination.

But most importantly, this is the firstborn of Darwin's mind, long gestating, and contains his most confident and positive statement of his thesis. He had tried to anticipate all the major objections to his theory and answer them preemptively here. Still, at the time of this writing he had no critics, so the tone and content display none of that waffling that mar, to a certain extent, the final edition.

This volume was put together in 1964, and Ernst Mayr's introduction dates from that time. It is a good historical introduction to Darwin and his contribution, and some more specific remarks on the first edition, its general approach and some of its path-breaking arguments. Also included in the extra matter is a bibliography of Darwin's published works, plus current works on evolution, as of 1964. There is also a quite comprehensive index of the text, which should make the book considerably more usable to us than it was to Darwin's original readers.

My only gripe is that Harvard University Press only offers a paperback, although it used to have a hardcover edition. The paperback version is readable enough at 5.5 by 8.2 inches, yet it's too thick for its size, and, while definitely not of poor quality, vulnerable to the binding breakage typical of the breed, so serious scholars of the work might find themselves literally pulling it apart. For you and me, though, it should be just fine.

5-0 out of 5 stars a Classic, very frank and original
A lot of unanswered questions of Darwin's age have been answered today, but still one does not fail to see the genius behind the logical derivations and counterweighted arguments.

In this edition, Darwin expresses himself much more boldly than in the later editions, when he was countered and threatened by the dogmatic religious groups simply because it doesn't support 'their' theory.

(This is for the anti-theorists) A theory is always a theory, it can't be proven like a mathematical formula, it may have gaps in understanding, it may not be able to explain everything under the sun, but that does NOT provide a good reason to throw the whole theory out. For the ones attentive to the nuances, it is NOT a hypothesis, it's a theory, and in spite of not being provable by deductive logic, this provides a good insight on how the species might have evolved, and very interestingly, the role of mankind in it.

One of the reason behind my liking this book is that the author is aware of the weak areas and mentioned what kind of proofs (fossils and the like) would substanciate the theory, and in many cases such pieces of proof were found much afterwards. The book is really a masterpiece. ... Read more


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