Unnatural Selection

Author: Emily Monosson
Publisher: Island Press
ISBN: 1610914996
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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Gonorrhea. Bed bugs. Weeds. Salamanders. People. All are evolving, some surprisingly rapidly, in response to our chemical age. In Unnatural Selection, Emily Monosson shows how our drugs, pesticides, and pollution are exerting intense selection pressure on all manner of species. And we humans might not like the result. Monosson reveals that the very code of life is more fluid than once imagined. When our powerful chemicals put the pressure on to evolve or die, beneficial traits can sweep rapidly through a population. Species with explosive population growth--the bugs, bacteria, and weeds--tend to thrive, while bigger, slower-to-reproduce creatures, like ourselves, are more likely to succumb. Unnatural Selection is eye-opening and more than a little disquieting. But it also suggests how we might lessen our impact: manage pests without creating super bugs; protect individuals from disease without inviting epidemics; and benefit from technology without threatening the health of our children.

Evolving Ourselves

Author: Juan Enriquez
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 0143108344
Format: PDF, ePub
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"Futurist Juan Enriquez and scientist Steve Gullans conduct a sweeping tour of how humans are changing the course of evolution for all species--sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. For example: What if life forms are limited only by the bounds of our imagination? Are designer babies and pets, de-extinction, even entirely newspecies fair game?; As humans, animals, and plants become ever more resistant to disease and aging, what will become the leading causes of death?; Man-machine interfaces may allow humans to live much longer. What will happen when we transfer parts of our 'selves' into clones, into stored cells and machines? Though these harbingers of change are deeply unsettling, the authors argue we are also in an epoch of tremendous opportunity. Future humans, perhaps a more diverse, resilient, gentler, and intelligent species, may become better caretakers of the planet--but only if we make the right choices now."--Provided by publisher.

Evolution in a Toxic World

Author: Emily Monosson
Publisher: Island Press
ISBN: 159726976X
Format: PDF
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With BPA in baby bottles, mercury in fish, and lead in computer monitors, the world has become a toxic place. But as Emily Monosson demonstrates in her groundbreaking new book, it has always been toxic. When oxygen first developed in Earth's atmosphere, it threatened the very existence of life: now we literally can't live without it. According to Monosson, examining how life adapted to such early threats can teach us a great deal about today's (and tomorrow's) most dangerous contaminants. While the study of evolution has advanced many other sciences, from conservation biology to medicine, the field of toxicology has yet to embrace this critical approach. In Evolution in a Toxic World, Monosson seeks to change that. She traces the development of life's defense systems—the mechanisms that transform, excrete, and stow away potentially harmful chemicals—from more than three billion years ago to today. Beginning with our earliest ancestors' response to ultraviolet radiation, Monosson explores the evolution of chemical defenses such as antioxidants, metal binding proteins, detoxification, and cell death. As we alter the world's chemistry, these defenses often become overwhelmed faster than our bodies can adapt. But studying how our complex internal defense network currently operates, and how it came to be that way, may allow us to predict how it will react to novel and existing chemicals. This understanding could lead to not only better management and preventative measures, but possibly treatment of current diseases. Development of that knowledge starts with this pioneering book.

Natural Defense

Author: Emily Monosson
Publisher: Island Press
ISBN: 1610917189
Format: PDF
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We rely on chemical cures to keep our bodies free from disease and our farm fields free from bugs and weeds. While human and agricultural health are rarely considered together, both are based on the same ecology, and both are being threatened by organisms that have evolved to resist our antibiotics and pesticides. Fortunately scientists are finding new solutions that work with, rather than against, nature. There are viruses that bust apart bacteria; insect pheromones that throw crop destroying moths into a misguided sexual frenzy; plant genes edited to protect against disease; and a resurgence of the ancient practice of fecal transplants. In this hopeful book, Monosson offers a fascinating look into the future of natural defenses.

The Gene Machine

Author: Bonnie Rochman
Publisher: Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 0374713960
Format: PDF, Mobi
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A sharp-eyed exploration of the promise and peril of having children in an age of genetic tests and interventions Is screening for disease in an embryo a humane form of family planning or a slippery slope toward eugenics? Should doctors tell you that your infant daughter is genetically predisposed to breast cancer? If tests revealed that your toddler has a genetic mutation whose significance isn’t clear, would you want to know? In The Gene Machine, the award-winning journalist Bonnie Rochman deftly explores these hot-button questions, guiding us through the new frontier of gene technology and how it is transforming medicine, bioethics, health care, and the factors that shape a family. Rochman tells the stories of scientists working to unlock the secrets of the human genome; genetic counselors and spiritual advisers guiding mothers and fathers through life-changing choices; and, of course, parents (including Rochman herself) grappling with revelations that are sometimes joyous, sometimes heartbreaking, but always profound. She navigates the dizzying and constantly expanding array of prenatal and postnatal tests, from carrier screening to genome sequencing, while considering how access to more tests is altering perceptions of disability and changing the conversation about what sort of life is worth living and who draws the line. Along the way, she highlights the most urgent ethical quandary: Is this technology a triumph of modern medicine or a Pandora’s box of possibilities? Propelled by human narratives and meticulously reported, The Gene Machine is both a scientific road map and a meditation on our power to shape the future. It is a book that gets to the very core of what it means to be human.

Our Posthuman Future

Author: Francis Fukuyama
Publisher: Profile Books
ISBN: 1847653707
Format: PDF, Mobi
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Is a baby whose personality has been chosen from a gene supermarket still a human? If we choose what we create what happens to morality? Is this the end of human nature? The dramatic advances in DNA technology over the last few years are the stuff of science fiction. It is now not only possible to clone human beings it is happening. For the first time since the creation of the earth four billion years ago, or the emergence of mankind 10 million years ago, people will be able to choose their children's' sex, height, colour, personality traits and intelligence. It will even be possible to create 'superhumans' by mixing human genes with those of other animals for extra strength or longevity. But is this desirable? What are the moral and political consequences? Will it mean anything to talk about 'human nature' any more? Is this the end of human beings? Our Posthuman Future is a passionate analysis of the greatest political and moral problem ever to face the human race.

Evolving Ourselves

Author: Juan Enriquez
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 0698174984
Format: PDF, Kindle
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“We are the primary drivers of change. We will directly and indirectly determine what lives, what dies, where, and when. We are in a different phase of evolution; the future of life is now in our hands.” Why are rates of conditions like autism, asthma, obesity, and allergies exploding at an unprecedented pace? Why are humans living longer, getting smarter, and having far fewer kids? How might your lifestyle affect your unborn children and grandchildren? How will gene-editing technologies like CRISPR steer the course of human evolution? If Darwin were alive today, how would he explain this new world? Could our progeny eventually become a different species—or several? In Evolving Ourselves, futurist Juan Enriquez and scientist Steve Gullans conduct a sweeping tour of how humans are changing the course of evolution—sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. For example: • Globally, rates of obesity in humans nearly doubled between 1980 and 2014. What’s more, there’s evidence that other species, from pasture-fed horses to lab animals to house cats, are also getting fatter. • As reported by U.S. government agencies, the rate of autism rose by 131 percent from 2001 to 2010, an increase that cannot be attributed simply to increases in diagnosis rates. • Three hundred years ago, almost no one with a serious nut allergy lived long enough to reproduce. Today, despite an environment in which food allergies have increased by 50 percent in just over a decade, 17 million Americans who suffer from food allergies survive, thrive, and pass their genes and behaviors on to the next generation. • In the pre-Twinkie era, early humans had quite healthy mouths. As we began cooking, bathing, and using antibiotics, the bacteria in our bodies changed dramatically and became far less diverse. Today the consequences are evident not only in our teeth but throughout our bodies and minds. Though these harbingers of change are deeply unsettling, the authors argue that we are also in an epoch of tremendous opportunity. New advances in biotechnology help us mitigate the cruel forces of natural selection, from saving prematurely born babies to gene therapies for sickle cell anemia and other conditions. As technology like CRISPR enables us to take control of our genes, we will be able to alter our own species and many others—a good thing, given that our eventual survival will require space travel and colonization, enabled by a fundamental redesign of our bodies. Future humans could become great caretakers of the planet, as well as a more diverse, more resilient, gentler, and more intelligent species—but only if we make the right choices now. Intelligent, provocative, and optimistic, Evolving Ourselves is the ultimate guide to the next phase of life on Earth. From the Hardcover edition.

Unnatural Selection

Author: Mark Roeder
Publisher: Skyhorse
ISBN: 1628724803
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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“Compelling . . . Technology is changing the landscape of society, and Roeder describes how humanity is changing along with it.” —Daniel H. Wilson, author of Robopocalypse Does the geek personify a distinct new phase in human evolution, as the environment shifts to favor their traits? This fascinating book examines the behavioral and genetic traits commonly associated with those who, in the past, may have been labeled or looked down upon, but have bloomed in today’s “digital greenhouse.” As an example, think of the competition between Mark Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins made famous in the movie The Social Network. Mark Roeder suggests that the rise of the geek is not so much the product of Darwinian natural selection as of man-made—or unnatural—selection, which allows non-neurotypicals to thrive. He explains why geeks have become so phenomenally successful in such a short time, and why the process will further accelerate in the future, driven by breakthroughs in genetic engineering, neuropharmacology, and artificial intelligence. Unnatural Selection offers a fascinating synthesis of the latest trends in these fields and predicts a twenty-first-century “cognitive arms race”—in which new technology will enable everyone to become more intelligent and “geek-like.” “A thoughtful, contemplative treatise told with wit and wisdom.” —Publishers Weekly

The Untied States of America

Author: Juan Enriquez
Publisher: Crown
ISBN: 0307422445
Format: PDF
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Can a country be like a marriage that has run out of cash and steam, resulting in the inevitable frank discussions about just who is pulling his or her own weight? Eventually, even those who love each other sometimes conclude they cannot stay together. Juan Enriquez’s unique insights into the financial, political, and cultural issues we face will provoke shock and surprise and lead you to ask the question no one has yet put on the table: Could “becoming untied” ever happen here? It’s a question made especially relevant when we are faced with such unpromising facts as: • At no other time have we had the unwelcome convergence in which the three key sectors of business, government, and consumers are so tapped out due to debt that each lacks the financial wherewithal to come to the rescue of the others. • Most assets are not being used for productive purposes but for speculation, resulting in people lacking incentives to create real wealth, focusing instead on buying, selling, and flipping real estate. • As religion starts to mix with politics, we have a culture that allows us to fall behind what were previously third world nations, because we are now treating science the way we did sex in the 1950s, banning or burying evolution theories and research into promising lifesaving areas such as stem-cell research. When the enemy was outside—for example, the threat perceived when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik and people feared America would lose the brain race—we rallied. Now the enemy is within, and we polarize. Defaming the legitimacy of people on the “other” side becomes the currency of the day, where people in blue states are seen as godless liberal elitists and those in red states are seen as, well, rednecks. Citizenship, Enriquez says, is like buying into a national brand. If the brand promises one thing and delivers another, could it then have the same fate as a tired product on a supermarket shelf, eroding, losing support, even disappearing? Countries, even one as powerful and successful as America, live on fault lines. When a fault line splits, it’s near impossible to put things back together again. What America will look like in fifty years depends on what we do today to act on the issues raised in The Untied States of America. Also available as an eBook From the Hardcover edition.

The Selfish Gene

Author: Richard Dawkins
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
ISBN: 9780192860927
Format: PDF
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An ethologist shows man to be a gene machine whose world is one of savage competition and deceit