Tag Archives: biology

NON-HUMANS

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild

Written by: Lawrence Anthony, Graham Spence

LAWRENCE ANTHONY (AUTHOR, CONSERVATIIONIST, ENVIRONMENTALIST, EXPLORER, BORN 1950, DIED MARCH 2ND 2012)
GRAHAM SPENCE (CO-AUTHOR, JOURNALIST, EDITOR)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Narrated by: Simon Vance

Anthropomorphizing non-humans is a slippery slope.  The brain is an amazing organ that compels humans to understand things beyond understanding.  Whether it is belief in a Supreme Being or belief that wild animals think, human brains create stories of belief based on consciousness; i.e. something beyond instinct and conditioning.

LAWRENCE ANTHONY AND A BELOVED ELEPHANT (MR. ANTHONY DIED IN 2012 AT THE AGE OF 61 FROM A HEART ATTACK.)

Lawrence Anthony, a conservationist, notes his experience with a herd of wild elephants.  This herd of elephants will be killed if he is unwilling to accept them at his conservation area in South Africa.  The elephant herd has been found unmanageable by other conservationists.  The problem has been the herd will not stay within a confined conservation area.  The elephants break through whatever barriers are placed in their way.

ELEPHANT CONSERVATION BARRIERS (The elephant herd has been found unmanageable by other conservationists.  The problem has been the herd will not stay within a confined conservation area.  The elephants break through whatever barriers are placed in their way.)
ELEPHANT POACHING ( As is widely reported, native animal species in Africa are becoming extinct.  Partly because of the advance of civilization; i.e. because of native customs, the desire of souvenir hunters. and the greed of ivory and horn hunters.)

Anthony tells a story of Africa that reflects on his perception of reality.  As is widely reported, native animal species in Africa are becoming extinct.  Partly because of the advance of civilization; i.e. because of native customs, the desire of souvenir hunters. and the greed of ivory and horn hunters.  Anthony exposes some of these causes in “The Elephant Whisperer”.  However, Anthony takes a step too far by suggesting wild animals have cognitive recognition; i.e. a near-human understanding of what is happening in their world.

Though Anthony’s perception of animals is askew, his story brings Africa alive.  Anthony’s effort to preserve Africa’s wild life is exemplary.  His methods make sense.  He scrambles to create an electrical barrier around his conservation area that will contain the largest land based animal in the world.  The herd he is given custody of instinctually resists containment even though it offers a haven from human interference with nature.

PAVLOV’S DOG ( Like Pavlov’s dogs, the elephants begin to accept his presence and their sanctuary.  Anthony interprets this instinctual response as a cognitive rather than operantly conditioned response.)

Anthony overcomes that instinctual resistance by making himself and his employees familiar to the herd.  He insists on spending his personal and the staff’s time with the herd so they recognize his and their smell and presence.  Like Pavlov’s dogs, the elephants begin to accept his presence and their sanctuary.  Anthony interprets this instinctual response as a cognitive rather than operantly conditioned response.

TRIBALISM THAT THREATENS AFRICAN UNITY (An irony of Anthony’s conclusion of wild animal consciousness is in his white man’s communication with factions of the South African community. )

An irony of Anthony’s conclusion of wild animal consciousness is in his white man’s communication with factions of the South African community.  Anthony notes his area of South Africa has had no elephants for years.  Elephants have been systematically poached and driven out of South Africa by their instinct for survival.  Many of the natives in his area have never even seen an elephant.  The irony is that Anthony is challenged by African natives for his role in reintroducing elephants to South Africa.  The use of land for conservation interferes with tribal interests in raising cattle and goats.  Others question conservation’s interference in harvesting animals for food and ivory.

To combat the challenge, Anthony pleads his case for conservation that will enrich the natives without farming or harvesting elephants for their meat and ivory.  Anthony uses an interpreter to communicate his message to the natives because he is not fluent in their language.  Anthony chooses an interpreter that bridges the myths of Africa with logical reasoning to convince the natives that he is on their side.

Anthony’s pitch is based on human reasoning.  That reasoning contrasts with the instinctual way he approaches his adopted elephant herd.  As a human speaking to other humans, cognition is logically taken for granted.  Humans speaking to non-humans are deluding themselves by believing elephants or other species have equal or superior cognitive abilities.

SOUTH AFRICAN TOURISM (To combat the challenge, Anthony pleads his case for conservation to enrich the natives without seeking to harvest elephants for their meat and ivory.  Anthony uses and interpreter to communicate his message to the natives because he is not fluent in their language.  Anthony chooses an interpreter that bridges the myths of Africa with the logical reasoning to convince the natives that he is on their side.)

Evolution fools us all.  Maybe the future will change some member of the animal kingdom to create a “Planet of the Apes” but a “Planet of the Elephants” seems a step too far.

Nevertheless, “The Elephant Whisperer” is a fascinating glimpse of Africa.  We love our dogs, cats, and other pets.  Anthony, and many humans, believe animals think like humans.  Many think animals communicate among themselves.  However, today, it is evolutionary instinct and conditioning; not cognition, that rules the non-human community.

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TIME IS A MYSTERY

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Why Time Flies

Written by: Alan Burdick

 Narrated by: George Newbern

ALAN BURDICK (AUTHOR, EDITOR FOR THE NEW YORKER,  In some respects, Burdick’s story is enlightening; in others, time escapes his and an audience’s understanding, )

Time is a mystery.  Alan Burdick speculates on a definition of time in “Why Time Flies”.  In some respects, Burdick’s story is enlightening; in others, time escapes his  audience’s understanding.

ENDORPHINS ARE CHEMICALS IN THE BRAIN THAT FUNCTION AS NEUROTRANSMITTERS (Time appears to be a construct of mind and consciousness, both of which are equally mysterious.)

Time appears to be a construct of mind and consciousness, both of which are equally mysterious.  No one really knows what mind and consciousness are but recent experiments suggest they are a state of being that offers versions of reality; i.e. not objective truth but subjective understanding.  Experiments show that the mind deconstructs what we see and reassembles it to have meaning in an individual’s consciousness.

CAR CRASH (Burdick shows, through recounted experiments, that time does not slow down when we experience traumatic events like a car crash or a bungee jump. )

Burdick shows, through recounted experiments, that time does not slow down when we experience traumatic events like a car crash or a bungee jump.  What our mind does is reconstruct an accident or bungee jump through a consciousness that makes it seem time slows down.  Our consciousness remembers or manufactures events as though they occurred in slow motion; i.e. we remember seeing our car flipping over, the top being crushed, and our effort to use a seat belt to steady our movements.  All of this happens within a minute but we remember it in detail as though a slow-motion camera records the accident.

MIND PATTERNING  (Memories are not precise films of past events. Memories are facts held together by cognitively created stories that make sense in the mind of the person who remembers. Making sense in the mind of one who remembers is not the same as truth. Patterning of remembered facts compels humans to distort memory. The distortion is caused by forgotten details, rationalizations, and prejudices that blend facts to make memories logical in the mind of the one who remembers. The technical expression of difference between memory and truth is partly defined in Tavris’s and Aronson’s book as cognitive-dissonance.)

Burdick notes that time only flows in one direction.  As common experience tells us, we cannot unbreak an egg.  Life begins young and grows older; old begins old and gets older, at least until death. What happens next is another mystery.

Through manipulation of images, we can reverse time but we know it is an illusion.  Various experiments show that time can be slowed down as speculated by Einstein (and later proved by others) but time is never shown to go backward.  That is why travel to the past is considered impossible while travel to the future is, in a limited sense, possible.  As movement approaches the speed of light, time slows down.  A person on earth ages faster than a person in space.  In a way, the person in space travels into a future.  By returning to earth a person from space travels to the future because he/she aged at a slower rate than those left behind.

IN THE MOMENT (Burdick notes that time is always now.  It has no past.  It has no future.  Time is “in the moment”.  Burdick’s recognition is not helpful in understanding time.  Time is never clearly identifiable because it is either becoming a history or a future. )

Burdick notes that time is always now.  It has no past.  It has no future.  Time is “in the moment”.  Burdick’s recognition is not helpful in understanding time.  Time is never clearly identifiable because it is either becoming a history or a future.

How does one define a moment?  It seems to be something between history and future but what is time’s physical marker?  Maybe it is consciousness but no one knows what consciousness is and every person’s consciousness is personal and subjective; not universal.

At best, Burdick’s story only deepens the mystery of time.

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DIETING AND THE BRAIN

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

Written by: John J. Ratey, MD

Narrated by: Walter Dixon

JOHN RATEY (AUTHOR, MD)

Crash dieting and the brain compete for control of one’s established weight.  Per Doctor John Ratey, your first crash diet will undoubtedly help lose weight.  However, when weight is regained, the same diet will not be equally successful.

ENDORPHINS ARE CHEMICALS IN THE BRAIN THAT FUNCTION AS NUEROTRANSMITTERS

The brain automatically triggers weight conservation with a second crash diet because it signals body starvation.  The third, fourth; etc. crash diet will increasingly be unsuccessful.  Ratey’s point is that weight loss success requires cooperation from the brain.  Ratey suggests the key to that cooperation is exercise.

Ratey is not expecting everyone to become an athlete but that some exercise regimen, whether walking, biking, or climbing stairs will offer numerous benefits for weight maintenance, mental function, and psychological health.  Ratey does not discount the importance of a healthy diet but food binges, foggy thinking, and states of depression or anxiety can be scientifically ameliorated by exercise.  Ratey goes so far as to suggest exercise is medicine for health.

————————-WALKING, BIKING, CLIMBING STAIRS———————————————-
21ST CENTURY MODELS
LOUISE O’MURPHY – KING LOUIS’ MISTRESS 1751

An inference from Ratey’s research is that obsession with body image interferes with human health.  As history shows, the svelte image of modern models is a reversal of what was considered beauty in earlier centuries.  The substance of health is a combination of proper diet and exercise.  In most cases, Ratey implies body weight and health will stabilize with healthy eating and moderate exercise.  Ratey acknowledges genetics and medical maladies may interfere with that conclusion, but not change its efficacy when coordinated with medical consultation.

Part of one’s frustration with Ratey’s conclusion is dependence on what is called a proper diet.  It seems with each new study; some approved foods slip to the bottom of the “good food” pyramid, while some formerly “bad foods” move up the pyramid; i.e. chocolate for example.

PREGNANCY AND EXERCISE IN MODERN TIMES

The overriding value of Ratey’s book is the conclusion that exercise is a key to mood, memory, and learning.  Numerous control experiments support Ratey’s argument.  Exercise seems more for the brain than the body.  Every day should be an exercise day.  Ratey notes that pregnant women that exercise have been found to have healthier babies than those who, in earlier days, were counseled to rest and relax.

Exercise does not have to be a fixed regimen but walking rather than driving to the store, when close to home, is a beginning.  Replacing TV time with household chores is part of an exercise regimen. Keep moving.  Ratey suggests “Even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain.”

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NEANDERTHAL

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes

“Neanderthal Man” offers more than most science dilettantes will want to know about human origins.  To introduce the complexity of the story, this 46 minute YouTube introduction to Svante Pääbo’s Neanderthal theory is helpful.

Three fourths of the author’s book takes one into the science of genetics.  The remainder is about science competition, the race for publication, and the personal experience of the author.   Pääbo convinces one that desire-to-know, curiosity, and enthusiasm are the ingredients of break-through discoveries.  Pääbo’s explanation of how he became involved in cracking the genetic code of an ancient descendant of humankind begins with his interest in Egyptian mummies.  Pääbo is curious about the potential of being able to recover genetic material from a mummified body.  His curiosity and enthusiasm is symptomatically expressed with late-hour science lab experiments after his regular work day.  During the work day he is an intern in a University lab while pursuing a PhD.

In the early years of Pääbo’s career, he pursues his interest by securing mummy samples to test a hypothesis that genetic material cam be recovered after mummification.  His research is marginally successful but flawed by inexperience.  Despite the marginal success of his early experiments, curiosity and enthusiasm lead Pääbo to an obsessive interest in the science of genetics.  As Pääbo’s education and life progresses, the idea of genetically mapping human remains leads to a search for “Neanderthal Man”.

What Pääbo finds when he enters the field of specimen genetic research is that results are often contaminated by modern mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA).  In handling ancient body parts, geneticists would contaminate aged specimens with modern strands of mtDNA and presume the DNA sequence is from the original specimen.  Specimen contamination and misinformation lead to claims that dinosaurs might be reproduced from discovered mtDNA samples.  Pääbo creates a “clean room” to conduct his genetic research.  With a “clean room”, Pääbo recognizes that specimens over a million years old are unlikely to have enough preserved organic material to provide accurate mtDNA sequencing.  Pääbo notes that, even with specimens that are only thousands of years’ old only fragments of DNA, rather than complete DNA sequences, can be found.

Mapping of the Neanderthal genome is found to be difficult because genetic markers break down over time so that only fragments of DNA survive.  Pääbo and a team of scientists and computer whizzes, using fundamental genetic science knowledge and computer programming, manage to recreate a complete genome sequence for Neanderthal species.  The generally accepted conclusion of the discovery is that Neanderthals are a branch of the human race that originated in East Asia and Europe but died approximately 30,000 years ago.  The origin of humankind is still believed to have occurred in Africa but a variant of that species multiplied and then died out in Europe.

The ramification of sequencing an ancient human genome is in seeing the physical evidence of inherited and/or extinct characteristics of humankind.  An example, given by Pääbo, is the genetic marker for a penial bone (presumed to accelerate ejaculation) that exists in early human species but disappears in later generations.  This penile bone exists today in gorillas and chimpanzees, but not in Homo sapiens.

A host of ethical issues are raised in the author’s story.  If one can genetically map a Neanderthal genome, it becomes theoretically possible to resurrect an extinct species of humankind.  Further, it becomes possible to patent a genomic map that could be sold to companies interested in ancestral history or modern human genetic manipulation.  Though both issues are discussed by Pääbo’s team, the first is beyond their control and the second is denied when Pääbo chooses to publish the genome sequence without patent.  (Pääbo notes that genetic’ companies like 23andMe offer a genetic test for the presence of Neanderthal markers—but, for an added fee.)

Pääbo is ironically pursued by the Max Planck Institute in Germany to fund his genetics research.  The obvious irony is the super race ambition of German scientists during WWII.  Though Pääbo is Swedish, he chooses to take the Max Planck Institute offer.  Pääbo is successful.  With the Institute’s funding, the Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA is sequenced in 1997.

“Neanderthal Man” is an interesting book but more suited for a geneticist than the general public.  A dilettante may choose to pass.

Ape to Man: Evolution Documentary History Channel

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THE VITAL QUESTION

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex LifeTHE VITAL QUESTION

Written by: Nick Lane

Narration by:  Kevin Pariseau

NICK LANE (AUTHOR, BRITISH BIOCHEMIST)
NICK LANE (AUTHOR, BRITISH BIOCHEMIST)

Nick Lane, a biochemist, offers a science driven explanation for the origin of life.  As a non-scientist listening to Lane’s book, one may be overwhelmed by technical jargon without some additional research.  The additional effort offers a better understanding of Lane’s explanation for a chemical theory of life’s origin.  Though Lane’s story is laced with biochemical terms, he occasionally uses words that are understood by all; i.e. he argues the beginning of life comes from rock, water, and carbon dioxide that interact with each other when energy is introduced.

Planet earth is estimated to be four billion plus years old.  At earth’s earliest, rock, and water were present.  With an earthen core of molten rock, carbon dioxide is created from the interaction between rock and water.  Modern evidence of that interaction is observable in today’s THERMAL VENTS:

Those early elements lead to microscopic unicellular prokaryotes (bacteria and archaea) which have no nucleus (a center with a membrane), and only one chromosome (a genetic characteristic). Prokaryotes have DNA and an outer membrane with some of the elements of a bigger cell called eukaryotes.

PROKARYOTES AND EUKARYOTES:

Lane argues that over some period of time the constant motion of prokaryotes leads to a merge between one prokaryote and another to create a eukaryote; i.e. a new cellular formation with a nucleus (an internal element with its own membrane) and some added elemental features. One of the preeminent features of a eukaryote is its ability to become molecularly more complex; i.e. to become multi-cellular with multi-chromosome capability.

CHEMISTRY AS THE ORIGIN OF LIFE:

Lane argues, along with other biochemists, that the role of energy in the chemical creation of life is misunderstood until more recent times.

Lane reminds listeners of the physics law that says “energy cannot be created and cannot be destroyed”. With the growth of eukaryotes, energy became an integral part of cellular function. Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP) became the power plant of the cell.

With a built-in energy source, a race began to create life with permeable cellular membranes that allowed molecular interior change and exterior growth. The conditions for evolution are set.

Interior changes included mitochondrial DNA.

Exterior changes included molecular bonding and sustained energy for evolution.

Lane also explains why separate sexes are important for evolutionary survival. Female eggs carry the critical element of mitochondrial DNA but opportunity for evolutionary change is guaranteed by male sperm fertilization. Evolutionary change is inherent in the process of human procreation. However, he doubts life can be extended beyond the age of 120 without taking the risk of genetic manipulation, an image reminiscent of Hitler’s Aryan nation or H. G. Wells’ “Island of Dr. Moreau”.  

Lane’s “…Vital Question” remains a question at the end of his story. If life is just chemistry, where did the first prokaryotes come from? If they came from the big bang, what was there before the big bang?

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CHEMISTRY OF LIFE

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

What Is Life?: How Chemistry Becomes BiologyWhat is Life

Written by: Addy Pross

 Narration by:  Derek Perkins

ADDY PROSS (AUTHOR, FORMER PROFESSOR OF CHEMISTRY)
ADDY PROSS (AUTHOR, FORMER PROFESSOR OF CHEMISTRY)

The chemistry of life takes on new meaning in the book, “What is Life?”.  Chemistry professor and author Addy Pross argues that two RNA strands meet in a primordial swamp, replicate themselves and, over time, create the complexity of life.  Pross believes the origin of life can be explained and scientifically proven by “systems chemistry”.  Pross chooses to classify his explanation as “ahistorical” for two reasons.  One, it is historically and therefore scientifically impossible to recreate the environment of life’s origin.  (This is a true statement of any historical event but particularly a history that goes back 4.5 billion years.)  And two, there is no way of knowing the location of life’s beginnings.  If one cannot recreate or locate, Pross chooses to speculate.  In fairness, Pross supports his speculation with some chemical science experiments that reinforce his belief.

Pross uses some chemistry jargon but generally writes at a level understandable to us of the hoi polloi.  Two essential requirements of life are cellular replication and metabolism.  By replication, Pross means cellular ability to duplicate itself.  By metabolism, Pross means cellular energy to catalyze and sustain duplication.  Without those inherent qualities, life as we know it cannot exist.

Pross then offers a chemical theory of life.  Pross argues that chemicals constitute the essential elements of life.  Pross explains that chemicals come together and separate as cells, based on their stability.  Stability can be thought of in two ways.  One, water that turns into ice becomes highly stable as long as the temperature is below freezing.  A second and more important kind of stability is illustrated by water in a river that changes every moment but remains a flowing river.  Pross explains that animal cells are changing every moment; i.e. the animal of today is a different animal tomorrow because of cellular life and death brought on by perennial chemical interaction.  Strong attraction of particular RNA strands create stability in cells that automatically replicate themselves.  Weak attraction discounts cellular formation, stability, and replication.  Those RNA strands that have strong attraction create an energy that automatically compels duplication.

Replication and metabolism become part of the same chemically actuated process.  Pross refers to modern experiments with two RNA strands that interact in a way that both replicates and metabolizes to create a stable state of being.  Pross argues that “life is a self-sustaining kinetically stable dynamic reaction network derived from the replication reaction”.

Pross introduces the subject of complexity.  Through eons of time, this self-sustaining chemical reaction forms cells that are the building blocks of life.  As each chemical reaction strengthens, a Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest’ paradigm is activated.  Based on using the same source of raw material, from which the chemical metabolic energy originates, weaker chemical combinations (cellular formations) become extinct while stronger chemical combinations become dominant.  Richard Dawkins’ eternal genes are born.

Pross uses everyday examples to help explain a chemical theory of the origin of life.  For a non-scientist, Pross artfully explains his belief in the origin of life.  One might think–so what?

Pross is saying biology is merely a subset of chemistry.  For one thing, his view of chemistry opens a field of research that offers a first stage event (two strands of a duplicating and metabolizing factoid) that could create artificial intelligence that competes with a life we think we know.

Whether it is correct or not remains for others to prove.  Pross, like all adherents of science has his supporters and detractors. (For a critical analysis see Dutch biologist–Gert Korthof’s publication dated 10/6/14. http://wasdarwinwrong.com/korthof99.htm )

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NATURE’S LIBRARY

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Arrival of the Fittest: Solving Evolution’s Greatest PuzzleARRIVAL OF THE FITTEST

Written by:  Andreas Wagner

Narrated by:  Sean Pratt

ANDREAS WAGNER (PROFESSOR IN THE INSTITUTE OF EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY AT THE UNIVSITY OF ZURICH, AUTHOR)
ANDREAS WAGNER (PROFESSOR IN THE INSTITUTE OF EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY AT THE UNIVSITY OF ZURICH, AUTHOR)

Andreas Wagner suggests molecular life is nature’s library.  He believes Darwin’s theory of natural selection is recorded and accessible in the cellular history of life; i.e. a coded library buried, and partly indecipherable, in the molecules of life.

In “Arrival of the Fittest”, Wagner explains the vast distance between Darwin’s theory of evolution and the mechanics of evolution.  Darwin’s theory does not explain the cellular mechanics of life because science had not reached that level of observation and measurement.  The nearest Darwin comes to explanation is based on natural selection which only infers there is some mechanism, without identifying it.  In other words, there is no examination of the mechanics of evolutionary change in Darwin’s theory.

Wagner infers solution to “Arrival of the Fittest” puzzle, is in the science of molecular chemistry, biology, and mathematics.   The difficulty of discovery is in the secret of evolutionary mechanics, a secret presently as elusive as a unified field theory in physics.  Wagner infers whatever survives is the fittest; but, science fails, at least so far, to experimentally prove how the “…Fittest” gets there.  Why is that important?  Presumably, if one knows how an organism becomes the fittest, species improvement, maybe even immortality, is possible.

Wagner reviews science’s discovery of human evolution, the origin of life, and the fundamental   construct of “Arrival of the Fittest”.  Two mechanistic requirements for “Arrival of the Fittest” are molecular metabolism and replication.  Metabolism is the ability of molecules to process the organic material of life.  Wagner argues that metabolism is life’s first order of business.  There is experimental proof that metabolic process can be created by thermal and intermolecular force in laboratory condition similar to the early history of the world.  As heat and collision between organic materials evolve, molecules of life are formed.

Once metabolism is established, a replication process is required.

Replication is reproducing the fundamental building blocks of life.  As long as the raw materials of life are environmentally available, once metabolism is established, the next or concurrent stage of evolution is replication of molecular cells.  Over eons of time, mutation of molecular cells leads to the creation of DNA and RNA that become markers for organic cells that create the details of life.

This is the stage at which evolution confronts complexity for “Arrival of the Fittest”.  Over eons of time, metabolism and replication create life forms that survive their environment.  As the environment changes, the molecules of life adapt and evolve through a building up and breaking down of organic materials in an immortal loop, reflecting evolved DNA and RNA markers.  Wagner argues that this metabolic and replicating process results in “Arrival of the Fittest”.

With these mechanics, science can explore genetic inheritance, mutation, genes, and epigenetics as it is recorded in nature’s library.  What Wagner illustrates is that modification of the building blocks of life can be made at a molecular level.  Wagner’s observations raise both hope and fear.  There is the hope of curing genetically inherited diseases, eliminating world hunger, and improving human’ health and species longevity.  There is the fear of interrupting a natural life cycle in ways that cause disease, damage food production, and doom civilization.

Andreas Wagner reveals the immense complexity of human evolution by associating organic molecules with enough information to fill all libraries of the world.  Access to this immense library is being decoded and organized with biological research and computer technology.  Wagner’s book makes one wonder–is this research a harbinger of earth’s infinite or finite organic life?

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