Natural Obsessions / Edition 1

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Overview

As dramatic as The Double Hex and as absorbing as The Soul of a New Machine, Natural Obsessions explores the advanced reaches of molecular biology, the nature of the human cell, and the genes that control cancer. It unforgettably portrays some of the best young scientists in the world, the rewards and discouragements of scientific research, and the very process of scientific inquiry.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Two rival teams of eminent biologists studying oncogenesthe coils of DNA that control cancer growth in cellsare the focus of this overlong, detailed report by a New York University Graduate School instructor. One group, at the MIT-affiliated Whitehead Institute, is led by molecular biologist Robert Weinberg, portrayed here as the father figure of a bickering but close-knit tribe of underpaid graduate students and ``postdocs.'' Michael Wigler, a flamboyant, eccentric prodigy, heads the other team at the Cold Spring Harbor laboratory in New York. The significance of cancer-fighting discoveries tends to get lost here amid soul-searching, petty rivalries and tentative experiments. Scientific research, we learn, is an enterprise beset by ridiculous mistakes and false results. A fondness for solving puzzles seems to motivate these scientists more than a desire to help suffering humanity. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
Library Journal
In recent years, molecular biology has developed so rapidly and become so complex, it is difficult even for a scientist to follow the latest manipulations of genetic material and related discoveries, such as the role of oncogenes (mutant genes, apparently triggering the development of cancer). Journalist Angier spent several months at two laboratories that are in the forefront of this research, observing the work of graduate students, postdoctorate fellows, and technicians, all under the command of senior scientists. Her involvement with their lives, work, triumphs, and failures overshadows her attempts to colloquialize and clarify the scientific results of the research, so the reader eventually abandons the science being done for Angier's vivid and absorbing portrayal of the people doing it. Recommended for this reason, rather than for its exposition of the oncogene search. Eleanor Maass, Maass Assocs., New Milford, Pa.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395924723
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 4/1/1999
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 418
  • Sales rank: 702,865
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

NATALIE ANGIER is a Pulitzer-Prize winning science columnist for the New York Times. She is the author of The Canon, The Beauty of the Beastly, and Natural Obsessions. She lives outside Washington, D.C.

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