The Beauty Of The Beastly

Overview

Natalie Angier knows all that scientists know - and sometimes more - about the power of symmetry in sexual relations, about the brutal courting habits of dolphins, about the grand deceit of orchids, about the impact of female and male preferences on evolution. She knows how scientists go about their work, and she describes their ways, their visions, and their arguments. Perhaps most poignantly, she understands the complexities and the sad necessity of death. "The beauty of the natural world lies in the details, ...

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Overview

Natalie Angier knows all that scientists know - and sometimes more - about the power of symmetry in sexual relations, about the brutal courting habits of dolphins, about the grand deceit of orchids, about the impact of female and male preferences on evolution. She knows how scientists go about their work, and she describes their ways, their visions, and their arguments. Perhaps most poignantly, she understands the complexities and the sad necessity of death. "The beauty of the natural world lies in the details, and most of those details are not the stuff of calendar art," she points out. Few writers have ever covered so many facets of biology so evocatively in one book. The Beauty of the Beastly tells us how the genius of the biological universe resides in its details and proves why, according to Timothy Ferris, author of the acclaimed Coming of Age in the Milky Way, Angier is "one of the strongest and wittiest science writers in the world today."

Angier, one of the foremost American science writers, is the author of Natural Obsessions: The Search for the Oncogene. In her latest work she has reshaped many of her articles into a narrative that vividly conveys the discoveries of contemporary science and how biologists made them.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"More than ever, we need good interpreters (of science), and Natalie Angier is one who is constitutionally incapable of writing a boring sentence." The New York Times

"Intimate and dramatic portraits of nature." Publishers Weekly, Starred

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Angier (Natural Obsessions: The Search for the Oncogene), the Pulitzer Prize-winning science reporter for the New York Times, confesses that she enjoys writing ``about organisms that many people find repugnant: spiders, scorpions, parasites, worms, rattlesnakes, dung beetles, hyenas.'' In these elegant essays (most of which have appeared in the Times), Angier discusses sexual and parental behavior, medical and health issues from an evolutionary and cross-species perspective. Not afraid to anthropomorphize, she even sees molecules as characters in little plays; the decadence of orchids, she says, would make Oscar Wilde wilt. Other topics introduce the latest discoveries in molecular biology and the work of female scientists. From cockroaches to cheetahs, DNA to elephant dung, Angier gives us intimate and dramatic portraits of nature that readers will find rewarding. Author tour. (June)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395791479
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 4/1/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 832,427
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.68 (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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Table of Contents

Introduction
1 Mating for Life? 3
2 The Urge to Cuddle 10
3 Tell a Tale of In-Laws 15
4 Female Choice: An Eve-olutionary Force 21
5 What Makes a Parent Put Up with It All? 27
6 Dolphin Courtship: Brutal, Cunning, and Complex 32
7 Skin Deep? 38
8 The Grand Strategy of Orchids 44
9 The Very Pulse of the Machine 53
10 The Wrapping of DNA 60
11 Chaperoning Proteins 66
12 A Clue to Longevity 72
13 What Happens When DNA Is Bent 77
14 Blueprint for an Embryo 83
15 DNA's Unbroken Text 89
16 Admirers of the Scorpion 97
17 Parasites and Sex 103
18 The Scarab, Peerless Recycler 109
19 There Is Nothing Like a Roach 116
20 The Pit Viper: Bizarre, Gallant, Venomous 122
21 The Play's the Thing 131
22 Hormones and Hyenas 138
23 The World's Most Endangered Primate 145
24 Plenty of Fish in the Sea 151
25 Chasing Cheetahs 157
26 Busy as a Bee? 162
27 It's Only Human 169
28 A New Theory of Menstruation 177
29 Why Vegetables Are Good for You 182
30 Unsightly Fat: The Mammals' Fate 188
31 The Anatomy of Joy 194
32 The Artful Doctor 199
33 From Madness to Masterpiece 205
34 Scientist at Work: Victoria Elizabeth Foe 211
35 Scientist at Work: Mary-Claire King 218
36 At the Science Museum with Stephen Jay Gould 225
37 Cell Death as the Key to Life 233
38 Myc Gene, Arbiter of Death or Life 238
39 The Other Side of Suicide 243
40 Another Stitch in the Quilt 250
41 A Granddaughter's Fear 256
Index 261
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