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Genome: The Autobiography Of Species In 23 Chapters: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters

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The book is accessible but does get progressively more difficult and there is quite a bit of genetic code mentioned, but most people will not have a problem understanding it since the book does educate so well. Despite the title, each chapter does not go into a detailed account of the function of each set of chromosomes. A tour de force: clear, witty, timely, and informed by an intelligence that sees new knowledge as a blessing and not a curse. I discovered that many countries - including the US and the UK - took significant steps towards developing and supporting eugenic customs and laws in the 20's and 30's.

An extraordinarily nimble synthesist, Ridley leaps from chromosome to chromosome in a handy summation of our ever increasing understanding of the roles that genes play in disease, behavior, sexual differences, and even intelligence. The are always ideological and political implication, too, not only within the production of science popularisation but within scientific enterprises generally. Ridley also emphasises that there is a lot we don't know, for example about the mysterious "prions" which had a role to play in mad cow disease. I think Ridley’s tone is a little dry, though; given that and the fact that the book is a little out of date now, I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone looking for a quick and up to date whip around of what we know of genetics. Keeping in mind that this book was written 20 years ago -which of course if a short life-span for literature, but a very long one for science - this is very well written, ingeniously presented and fun to engage with.

Because gene mutations (changes in the base sequence) often have two separate effects, one beneficial and one harmful. Ridley was educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford where he received a doctorate in zoology before commencing a career in journalism. This book will be particularly relevant to lay readers, providing insight into how far we have come and where we are heading in the understanding of our genetic heritage.

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. DNA was first isolated in 1869 from the pus-soaked bandages of wounded soldiers in Germany by a Swiss doctor named Friedrich Miescher. And my very white mother would have been extremely surprised to see on the map that her forbears wandered around in central and northern Africa for thousands of years before making it up to the Balkans and then to the Baltic Sea and over into Finland and the British Isles. It's a strong feeling of becoming enraptured by the information, connections and insights afforded by this extremely lucid and stimulating layperson's introduction to the human genome. Rather, the reader feels like she has just read several science sections of the New York Times back to back.People, particularly in childhood, have an instinct for grammar, an inherent ability to arrange words in a meaningful way. Some day, when through genomic science we learn what its normal function is, the gene may acquire a new identity altogether.

One way to increase serotonin is to increase insulin levels thus eating a bag of chocolate chip cookies can do the trick. The account of the (gene-carrying) retrovirus therapy and other genetic `engineering' tricks was riveting. Most of the sources are academic papers or articles, and the popular books and textbooks referenced are mostly outdated.

Despite being almost two decades old, the science is still fresh, and the political angle is something you won't get from any other author is such compelling a manner. I suggest thinking of the author/narrator as a cool guy you'd be friends with telling you all this information, instead of a nerdy/haughty *scientist* . Take the case of chromosome 4, which is home to the gene for Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, a rare and deadly disease that leads to early death, and to the gene for Huntington disease, which causes slow but certain neurological devastation in patients in mid-life. Gene mutations can lead to disease, and sometimes there is a balancing effect between resistance to one disease at the expense of being susceptible to another disease.

He cites studies comparing the disparate outcomes of biological and adopted children of abusers to make his case. One of the points Ridley quite clearly makes in a couple of places is that your genes belong to you alone, and you alone have the right to decide who you want to share it with. Our genome - that is all our genes in the form of 23 chromosomes - is present in almost every cell in our body.By picking one newly discovered gene from each of the 23 human chromosomes and telling its story, Matt Ridley traces the history of our species and its ancestors. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average.

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