Blueprints : Solving the Mystery of Evolution

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"Blueprints" is an intriguing account of the evolution of the idea of evolution. The book is as much about the discoverers as it is about the discoveries. We meet the sickly, reclusive Charles Darwin who only published the Origin of Species to scoop American scientist T. H. Morgan; Francis Crick whose rambling doctoral researches were suddenly stimulated by his obsession with the DNA molecule; and Stanley L. Miller, who succeeded in simulating the beginnings of life in a test tube. Edey and Johnson's scientific detective story reveals the unruly ways and workings of scientific genius and the seemingly equal roles played by brilliance and more

Product details

  • Paperback | 427 pages
  • 129.54 x 193.04 x 30.48mm | 294.83g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford Paperbacks
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • bibliography, index
  • 0192861174
  • 9780192861177

Review Text

From the authors of Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind (Maitland, a paleoanthropologist, discovered the famous fossil), a lucid and readable account of evolutionary theory. Beginning with such scientists as Linnaeus, who gave us a way to see relationships among species, and Hutton, whose geology questioned the biblically derived age of the earth, Edey and Johanson lead up to Darwin's world-changing insight (Wallace is not slighted). From here, the authors turn their gaze inward, explaining the mechanics of evolution on a cellular/molecular level. With the egregious exception of casting Mendel's work in terms of mixing chicken and ham pate, they've done remarkably well in rendering this complex material straightforward and accessible. Furthermore, their account of pioneering work - such as T.H. Morgan's in the Fly Room, and Watson and Crick's at Cambridge - conveys the excitement of doing ground-breaking science. Having brought us up to date on the mechanics of DNA and RNA, the authors then offer a few insights into current work: theories of origin, including clay lattices; the beginnings of molecular anthropology in Sarich's work with blood proteins; and the revised family trees to which the new science has led. They close with a cautionary afterword. Despite some condescending authorial intrusion ("'Hold it,' said Don. 'Hold it right there. These explanations are tricky. Are you sure our readers are going to understand the principles underlying this stuff?'"): an enjoyable, painless, introduction to - or refresher in - a fascinating field. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Table of contents

Six who helped lay the groundwork; The Voyage of the Beagle. First suspicions about change. Years of lonely labour; A shock from the Spice Islands. The shocker: Alfred Russel Wallace; The Origin is published. The reaction; Gregor Mendel. The problem of blending explained: traits endure; Hugo de Vries. The source of variation found: mutations occur. Mendel is vindicated; The role of the chromosome; Friedrich Miescher: What are chromosomes made of? Answer: DNA is the transforming agent; James Watson and Francis Crick: How is DNA put together?; Question for Crick: What does the code say? How is it read? Is RNA involved?; The dual nature of DNA; The triplet code and the ribosome. Crick enunciates the central dogma; Stanley L. Miller and Manfred Eigen: a look from the bottom up; Carl R. Woese: A look from the top down; What old bones have to say about human evolution. What molecules have to say; Is there danger in being too smart?show more

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58 ratings
4.1 out of 5 stars
5 36% (21)
4 41% (24)
3 19% (11)
2 3% (2)
1 0% (0)
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