Brian Charlesworth is Royal Society Research Professor at the Institute of Cell, Animal and Population Biology, University of Edinburgh, and President of the Society for the Study Evolution. His research is mainly in evolutionary genetics, applying classical and molecular genetics to the study of evolution and natural variation. He is author of Evolution in Age-Structured Populations (CUP, 2nd edn. 1994) Deborah Charlesworth is Professor in the ICABP at Edinburgh. Her research focuses on the evolution of plant breeding systems, including how they avoid inbreeding, and work on sex chromosomes and self-incompatibility.
Evolution: A Very Short Introductionby Brian Charlesworth, Deborah Charlesworth
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Less than 450 years ago, all European scholars believed that the earth was the centre of a universe that was at most a few million miles in extent, and that the planets, sun, and stars all rotated around this centre. Less than 250 years ago, they believed that the universe was created essentially in its present state about 6000 years ago. Less than 150 years ago, the special creation by God of living species was still dominant. The relentless application of the scientific method of inference from experiment and observation, without reference to religious, or governmental authority has completely transformed our view of our origins and relation to the universe, in less than 500 years. Few would dispute that this programme has been spectacularly successful, particularly in the twentieth century. This book is about the crucial role of evolutionary biology in transforming our view of human origins and relation to the universe, and the impact of this idea on traditional philosophy and religion. The purpose of this book is to introduce the general reader to some of the most important basic findings, concepts, and procedures of evolutionary biology, as it has developed since the first publications of Darwin and Wallace on the subject, over 140 years ago. Evolution provides a unifying set of principals for the whole of biology; it also illuminates the relation of human beings to the universe and each other. In addition, many aspects of evolution have practical importance; for instance, the rapid evolution of resistance by bacteria to antibiotics and of HIV to antiviral drugs are pressing medical problems. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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