Unnatural Selection

Author: Emily Monosson
Publisher: Island Press
ISBN: 1610914996
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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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, Docs
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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.

Natural Defense

Author: Emily Monosson
Publisher: Island Press
ISBN: 1610917189
Format: PDF, ePub
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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.

Unnatural Selection

Author: Mark Roeder
Publisher: Skyhorse
ISBN: 1628724803
Format: PDF
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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 Gene Machine

Author: Bonnie Rochman
Publisher: Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 0374713960
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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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.

Unnatural Selection

Author: Katrina van Grouw
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 1400889642
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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A lavishly illustrated look at how evolution plays out in selective breeding Unnatural Selection is a stunningly illustrated book about selective breeding--the ongoing transformation of animals at the hand of man. More important, it's a book about selective breeding on a far, far grander scale—a scale that encompasses all life on Earth. We'd call it evolution. A unique fusion of art, science, and history, this book celebrates the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin's monumental work The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, and is intended as a tribute to what Darwin might have achieved had he possessed that elusive missing piece to the evolutionary puzzle—the knowledge of how individual traits are passed from one generation to the next. With the benefit of a century and a half of hindsight, Katrina van Grouw explains evolution by building on the analogy that Darwin himself used—comparing the selective breeding process with natural selection in the wild, and, like Darwin, featuring a multitude of fascinating examples. This is more than just a book about pets and livestock, however. The revelation of Unnatural Selection is that identical traits can occur in all animals, wild and domesticated, and both are governed by the same evolutionary principles. As van Grouw shows, animals are plastic things, constantly changing. In wild animals the changes are usually too slow to see—species appear to stay the same. When it comes to domesticated animals, however, change happens fast, making them the perfect model of evolution in action. Suitable for the lay reader and student, as well as the more seasoned biologist, and featuring more than four hundred breathtaking illustrations of living animals, skeletons, and historical specimens, Unnatural Selection will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in natural history and the history of evolutionary thinking.

Probably Approximately Correct

Author: Leslie Valiant
Publisher: Basic Books
ISBN: 0465032710
Format: PDF
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Presenting a theory of the theoryless, a computer scientist provides a model of how effective behavior can be learned even in a world as complex as our own, shedding new light on human nature.

Evolution in a Toxic World

Author: Emily Monosson
Publisher: Island Press
ISBN: 159726976X
Format: PDF, ePub
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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.

Body by Darwin

Author: Jeremy Taylor
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022605991X
Format: PDF, ePub
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We think of medical science and doctors as focused on treating conditions—whether it’s a cough or an aching back. But the sicknesses and complaints that cause us to seek medical attention actually have deeper origins than the superficial germs and behaviors we regularly fault. In fact, as Jeremy Taylor shows in Body by Darwin, we can trace the roots of many medical conditions through our evolutionary history, revealing what has made us susceptible to certain illnesses and ailments over time and how we can use that knowledge to help us treat or prevent problems in the future. In Body by Darwin, Taylor examines the evolutionary origins of some of our most common and serious health issues. To begin, he looks at the hygiene hypothesis, which argues that our obsession with anti-bacterial cleanliness, particularly at a young age, may be making us more vulnerable to autoimmune and allergic diseases. He also discusses diseases of the eye, the medical consequences of bipedalism as they relate to all those aches and pains in our backs and knees, the rise of Alzheimer’s disease, and how cancers become so malignant that they kill us despite the toxic chemotherapy we throw at them. Taylor explains why it helps to think about heart disease in relation to the demands of an ever-growing, dense, muscular pump that requires increasing amounts of nutrients, and he discusses how walking upright and giving birth to ever larger babies led to a problematic compromise in the design of the female spine and pelvis. Throughout, he not only explores the impact of evolution on human form and function, but he integrates science with stories from actual patients and doctors, closely examining the implications for our health. As Taylor shows, evolutionary medicine allows us think about the human body and its adaptations in a completely new and productive way. By exploring how our body’s performance is shaped by its past, Body by Darwin draws powerful connections between our ancient human history and the future of potential medical advances that can harness this knowledge.

Modern Prometheus

Author: Jim Kozubek
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 1108454623
Format: PDF, Mobi
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This book tells the dramatic story of Crispr and the potential impact of this gene-editing technology.