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The Gene: An Intimate History di Siddhartha…
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The Gene: An Intimate History (originale 2016; edizione 2017)

di Siddhartha Mukherjee (Autore)

UtentiRecensioniPopolaritàMedia votiCitazioni
1,785617,193 (4.19)114
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author draws on his scientific knowledge and research to describe the magisterial history of a scientific idea, the quest to decipher the master-code of instructions that makes and defines humans; that governs our form, function, and fate; and that determines the future of our children. The story of the gene begins in earnest in an obscure Augustinian abbey in Moravia in 1856 where Gregor Mendel, a monk working with pea plants, stumbles on the idea of a "unit of heredity." It intersects with Darwin's theory of evolution, and collides with the horrors of Nazi eugenics in the 1940s. The gene transforms postwar biology. It invades discourses concerning race and identity and provides startling answers to some of the most potent questions coursing through our political and cultural realms. It reorganizes our understanding of sexuality, gender identity, sexual orientation, temperament, choice, and free will, thus raising the most urgent questions affecting our personal realms. Above all, the story of the gene is driven by human ingenuity and obsessive minds--from Mendel and Darwin to Francis Crick, James Watson, and Rosalind Franklin to the thousands of scientists working today to understand the code of codes. Woven through the book is the story of Mukherjee's own family and its recurring pattern of schizophrenia, a haunting reminder that the science of genetics is not confined to the laboratory but is vitally relevant to everyday lives. The moral complexity of genetics reverberates even more urgently today as we learn to "read" and "write" the human genome--unleashing the potential to change the fates and identities of our children and our children's children.--Adapted from dust jacket.… (altro)
Utente:BravoZulu
Titolo:The Gene: An Intimate History
Autori:Siddhartha Mukherjee (Autore)
Info:Scribner (2017), Edition: Reprint, 608 pages
Collezioni:La tua biblioteca
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Informazioni sull'opera

Il gene. Il viaggio dell'uomo al centro della vita di Siddhartha Mukherjee (2016)

  1. 00
    p53: The Gene that Cracked the Cancer Code di Sue Armstrong (rodneyvc)
  2. 00
    A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes di Adam Rutherford (jigarpatel)
    jigarpatel: Summary of how humans have evolved with evidence found in genetics; interesting follow-up to Gene: An Intimate History.
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» Vedi le 114 citazioni

One of the best non-fiction books I've read this year, Mukherjee provides an excellent and personal overview of what we know about genetics, touching on history, ethics, and the future potential of the field. ( )
  MCBacon | Aug 2, 2021 |
Imagine a world in which the experts wrote with skill and grace commensurate with the level of their knowledge. As we know, this is not often so. Imagine then the joy of this reader, eager to remedy his relative ignorance about a subject that profoundly interests him, as he picks up a book that not only gives a sure-footed historical overview (my favorite way of bootstrapping myself into any topic) and then finds it as good as this one is.
The book is sprinkled with insights that enlighten. One example is when the author correlates three scientific concepts that influenced the twentieth century, the atom, the byte, and the gene. There is power in what they have in common: each represents the irreducible building block of matter, of information, and of heredity. As Mukherjee writes, “understanding that smallest part is crucial to understanding the whole” (p. 10). Knowledge is indeed power, and power always carries the potential of danger.
Mukherjee divides his tale roughly into two parts. The first half is a look at the attempts to understand the self-evident inheritability of traits along with the breathtaking range of variation. Many of the usual figures appear—the ancient Greeks, Mendel, Darwin, Morgan, Watson and Crick—as well as others not as widely known to the public such as Avery and Rosalind Franklin. The achievements of each are explained, without the reader getting the feeling that she is being talked down to. The author strives for similes and other figures of speech to help the reader see what he is describing. For instance, he writes that the molecule of Hemoglobin A is shaped like a four-leaf clover, and that each leaf “clasps, at its center, an iron-containing chemical named heme that can bind iron” (p. 140). Thus, an attentive reader doesn’t have to fear that a deficit in general scientific literacy will prevent her understanding the text.
Another example of the author’s gift for analogy comes toward the end of the following paragraph, which nicely sums up the challenges researchers have faced at every stage of understanding the gene:
“Ironically, the very features that enable a cell to read DNA are the features that make it incomprehensible to humans—to chemists, in particular. DNA, as Schrödinger had predicted, was a chemical built to defy chemists, a molecule of exquisite contradictions—monotonous and yet infinitely varied, repetitive to the extreme and yet idiosyncratic to the extreme. Chemists generally piece together the structure of a molecule by breaking the molecule down into smaller and smaller parts, like puzzle pieces, and then assembling the structure from the constituents. But DNA, broken into pieces, degenerates into a garble of four bases—A, C, G, and T. You cannot read a book by dissolving all its words into alphabets. With DNA, as with words, the sequence carries the meaning. Dissolve DNA into its constituent bases, and it turns into a primordial four-letter alphabet soup” (p. 216).
The second half of the book covers the recent past, the present, and the future. At the same time, the focus shifts from recording the quest to understand and describe the means and mechanics of heredity to the attempts to intervene. Can the gene be engineered? The answer seems to be yes. There are remaining technical hurdles, but the big challenges involved concern not only scientists but all of us: should it be? Techniques such recombination and stem-cell engineering already exist. The questions are ethical. Should efforts be restricted to prevent diseases with a strong single-gene component, such as Huntington’s chorea, sickle-cell anemia or cystic fibrosis? Benefits and risks become less clear-cut in the case of breast cancer or familial schizophrenia and rise from there to a Pandora's box of prenatal screening of the entire genome. Our human proclivity for hubris admonishes caution. For millennia, we struggled to be the first organism to read its own instruction manual, to borrow another of Mukherjee’s figures of speech; now we are embarking on an attempt to rewrite it.
In short, this reader agrees with the fulsome praise lavished on this extended probe of the wonder of our similarity and diversity. I began reading because of curiosity, but by the time I finished, I was convinced that—in light of the political and moral questions facing us—reading it was a civic duty. ( )
  HenrySt123 | Jul 19, 2021 |
Interesting, but too easy to put down for awhile and then pick back up. ( )
  Bodagirl | May 15, 2021 |
Because I work in computational biology, focusing on related minutae all day, this hit especially home. I had learned a lot of the broad scientific strokes in school but less the other parts. I was especially interested in the Asilomar conference and Schrödinger's book which kept coming up. The ending was really thoughtful and well done, although I'll admit (as Mukherjee acknowledges), his likely future is pretty disconcerting. I do believe there will be common-place crispr-related human therapy coming soon and the germline modification will come soon after. Every one of the example usages has so many ways of going wrong in subtle but disastrous and permanent ways ( )
  Lorem | Mar 6, 2021 |
Gosh, this book just drags on and on and on. It is quite interesting but it just won't end and at leat to me whose knowledge of biology is extremely restricted (apart from some stuff on behavioral genetics I know virtually nothing of that discipline) this is a serious problem as (especially beginning with the history of genetics in the 20th century) there is just too much content and it gets impossible to decide what is actually important and what not causing me to remember some nice facts but being unable to retell the whole big picture. It's just a fractured narrative which is not presented that well and loses itself in technicalities. ( )
  aeqk | Dec 13, 2020 |
The story of this invention and this discovery has been told, piecemeal, in different ways, but never before with the scope and grandeur that Siddhartha Mukherjee brings to his new history, “The Gene.” ... As he did in his Pulitzer ­Prize-winning history of cancer, “The Emperor of All Maladies” (2010), Mukherjee views his subject panoptically, from a great and clarifying height, yet also intimately.
 
... By the time “The Gene” is over, Dr. Mukherjee has covered Mendel and his peas, Darwin and his finches. He’s taken us on the quest of Watson, Crick and their many unsung compatriots to determine the stuff and structure of DNA. We learn about how genes were sequenced, cloned and variously altered, and about the race to map our complete set of DNA, or genome, which turns out to contain a stunning amount of filler material with no determined function.

...Many of the same qualities that made “The Emperor of All Maladies” so pleasurable are in full bloom in “The Gene.” The book is compassionate, tautly synthesized, packed with unfamiliar details about familiar people....

... “The Gene” is more pedagogical than dramatic; as often as not, the stars of this story are molecules, not humans. Dr. Mukherjee still has a poignant personal connection to the material — mental illness has wrapped itself around his family tree like a stubborn vine, claiming two uncles and a cousin on his father’s side — but this book does not aim for the gut. It aims for the mind...
 

» Aggiungi altri autori (4 potenziali)

Nome dell'autoreRuoloTipo di autoreOpera?Stato
Siddhartha Mukherjeeautore primariotutte le edizionicalcolato
Boutsikaris, DennisNarratoreautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
Drost-Plegt, TraceyTraduttoreautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
Veen, René vanTraduttoreautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
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An exact determination of the laws of heredity will probably work more change in man's outlook on the world, and in his power over nature, than any other advance in natural knowledge that can be foreseen.
—William Bateson
Human beings are ultimately nothing but carriers—passageways—for genes.  They ride us into the ground like racehorses from generation to generation.  Genes don't think about what constitutes good or evil.  They don't care whether we are happy or unhappy.  We're just means to an end for them.  The only thing they think about is what is most efficient for them.
—Haruki Murakami, IQ84
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To Priyabala Mukherjee (1906-1985), who knew the perils;
to Carrie Buck (1906-1983), who experienced them.
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In the winter of 2012, I traveled from Delhi to Calcutta to visit my cousin Moni.
The monastery was originally a nunnery.
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(Click per vedere. Attenzione: può contenere anticipazioni.)
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The Pulitzer Prize-winning author draws on his scientific knowledge and research to describe the magisterial history of a scientific idea, the quest to decipher the master-code of instructions that makes and defines humans; that governs our form, function, and fate; and that determines the future of our children. The story of the gene begins in earnest in an obscure Augustinian abbey in Moravia in 1856 where Gregor Mendel, a monk working with pea plants, stumbles on the idea of a "unit of heredity." It intersects with Darwin's theory of evolution, and collides with the horrors of Nazi eugenics in the 1940s. The gene transforms postwar biology. It invades discourses concerning race and identity and provides startling answers to some of the most potent questions coursing through our political and cultural realms. It reorganizes our understanding of sexuality, gender identity, sexual orientation, temperament, choice, and free will, thus raising the most urgent questions affecting our personal realms. Above all, the story of the gene is driven by human ingenuity and obsessive minds--from Mendel and Darwin to Francis Crick, James Watson, and Rosalind Franklin to the thousands of scientists working today to understand the code of codes. Woven through the book is the story of Mukherjee's own family and its recurring pattern of schizophrenia, a haunting reminder that the science of genetics is not confined to the laboratory but is vitally relevant to everyday lives. The moral complexity of genetics reverberates even more urgently today as we learn to "read" and "write" the human genome--unleashing the potential to change the fates and identities of our children and our children's children.--Adapted from dust jacket.

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