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Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23…

Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters (1999)

by Matt Ridley

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1999 ( )
  ChrisPisarczyk | Mar 17, 2016 |
The genome's been mapped.
But what does it mean?

Arguably the most significant scientific discovery of the new century, the mapping of the twenty-three pairs of chromosomes that make up the human genome raises almost as many questions as it answers. Questions that will profoundly impact the way we think about disease, about longevity, and about free will. Questions that will affect the rest of your life.

Genome offers extraordinary insight into the ramifications of this incredible breakthrough. By picking one newly discovered gene from each pair of chromosomes and telling its story, Matt Ridley recounts the history of our species and its ancestors from the dawn of life to the brink of future medicine. From Huntington's disease to cancer, from the applications of gene therapy to the horrors of eugenics, Matt Ridley probes the scientific, philosophical, and moral issues arising as a result of the mapping of the genome. It will help you understand what this scientific milestone means for you, for your children, and for humankind. ( )
  MarkBeronte | Jul 28, 2013 |
Ridley seems to me to be an heir of Asimov. He's made genes both accessible and laugh-out-loud funny. This breezy, informative book left me both enlightened and amused. The chapter on Hox genes alone is worth the price of admission. Not to mention the digression into the naming conventions of geneticists- f'rinstance, there are fruit fly genes called 'hedgehog', 'sonic hedgehog', 'tiggywinkle' and 'warthog'. Honest. "Hedgehog is a so-called segment-polarity gene, which means it is expressed in every segment, but only in the rear half thereof. So if you move a hedgehog-expressing piece of tissue into the anterior half of the wing segment, you get a fly with a sort of mirror-image wing with two front halves fused back to back in the middle and two back halves on the outsides." I loved this book. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
By a journalist / science editor rather than a scientist, this is an interesting and readable excursion into the mysteries of DNA and the human genome. Organized on the principle of discussing one gene per chromosome pair, each chapter explores what is known (or surmised) about what makes us human.
(Although Ridley is not a "believer" in Intelligent Design, he strays into validating the concept of a Creator from time to time. Compare to Behe's "Darwin's Black Box".) ( )
  librisissimo | Jan 31, 2013 |
Intriguing book, covering a range of topics. However difficult for me to follow all of the detail (not necessarily a problem) and now slightly out of date. ( )
  fluteflute | Aug 14, 2012 |
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All forms that perish other forms supply,
(By turns we catch the vital breath and die)
Like bubbles on the sea of matter borne,
They rise, they break, and to that sea return.
- Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man
First words
In the beginning was the word.
When I began writing this book, the human genome was still a largely unexplored landscape.
Whereas English books are written in words of variable lengths using twenty-three letters, genomes are written entirely in three-letter words, using only four letters: A, C, G, and T (which stand for adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine).
(p. 8)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060894083, Paperback)

Science writer Matt Ridley has found a way to tell someone else's story without being accused of plagiarism. Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters delves deep within your body (and, to be fair, Ridley's too) looking for dirt dug up by the Human Genome Project. Each chapter pries one gene out of its chromosome and focuses on its role in our development and adult life, but also goes further, exploring the implications of genetic research and our quickly changing social attitudes toward this information. Genome shies away from the "tedious biochemical middle managers" that only a nerd could love and instead goes for the A-material: genes associated with cancer, intelligence, sex (of course), and more.

Readers unfamiliar with the jargon of genetic research needn't fear; Ridley provides a quick, clear guide to the few words and concepts he must use to translate hard science into English. His writing is informal, relaxed, and playful, guiding the reader so effortlessly through our 23 chromosomes that by the end we wish we had more. He believes that the Human Genome Project will be as world-changing as the splitting of the atom; if so, he is helping us prepare for exciting times--the hope of a cure for cancer contrasts starkly with the horrors of newly empowered eugenicists. Anyone interested in the future of the body should get a head start with the clever, engrossing Genome. --Rob Lightner

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:18 -0400)

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Looks at one newly described gene from each of the twenty-three human chromosomes and explains how each one contributes to our uniqueness as a species.

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