She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity

She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity

by Carl Zimmer

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Overview

Award-winning, celebrated New York Times columnist and science writer Carl Zimmer presents a history of our understanding of heredity in this sweeping, resonating overview of a force that shaped human society—a force set to shape our future even more radically.

She Has Her Mother's Laugh presents a profoundly original perspective on what we pass along from generation to generation. Charles Darwin played a crucial part in turning heredity into a scientific question, and yet he failed spectacularly to answer it. The birth of genetics in the early 1900s seemed to do precisely that. Gradually, people translated their old notions about heredity into a language of genes. As the technology for studying genes became cheaper, millions of people ordered genetic tests to link themselves to missing parents, to distant ancestors, to ethnic identities. . . .

But, Zimmer writes, "Each of us carries an amalgam of fragments of DNA, stitched together from some of our many ancestors. Each piece has its own ancestry, traveling a different path back through human history. A particular fragment may sometimes be cause for worry, but most of our DNA influences who we are—our appearance, our height, our penchants—in inconceivably subtle ways." Heredity isn't just about genes that pass from parent to child. Heredity continues within our own bodies, as a single cell gives rise to trillions of cells that make up our bodies. We say we inherit genes from our ancestors—using a word that once referred to kingdoms and estates—but we inherit other things that matter as much or more to our lives, from microbes to technologies we use to make life more comfortable. We need a new definition of what heredity is and, through Carl Zimmer's lucid exposition and storytelling, this resounding tour de force delivers it.

Weaving historical and current scientific research, his own experience with his two daughters, and the kind of original reporting expected of one of the world's best science journalists, Zimmer ultimately unpacks urgent bioethical quandaries arising from new biomedical technologies, but also long-standing presumptions about who we really are and what we can pass on to future generations.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101984598
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/29/2018
Pages: 672
Sales rank: 37,592
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 2.20(d)

About the Author

Carl Zimmer writes the "Matter" column for The New York Times, and has frequently contributed magazines such as The Atlantic, National Geographic, Wired, and Scientific American, among others. A frequent contributor to Radiolab, he is the author of numerous books about science, including Microcosm and Parasite Rex. He has won numerous awards for his writing, including from the National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is professor adjunct at Yale University.

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Excerpted from "She Has Her Mother's Laugh"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Carl Zimmer.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Part I A Stroke on the Cheek

1 The Light Trifle of His Substance 11

2 Traveling Across the Face of Time 29

3 This Race Should End with Them 67

4 Attagirl 107

Part II Wayward DNA

5 An Evening's Revelry 137

6 The Sleeping Branches 157

7 Individual Z 182

8 Mongrels 214

9 Nine Foot High Complete 250

10 Ed and Fred 286

Part III The Pedigree Within

11 Ex Ovo Omnia 323

12 Witches'-Broom 348

13 Chimeras 370

Part IV Other Channels

14 You, My Friend, Are a Wonderland 405

15 Flowering Monsters 422

16 The Teachable Ape 445

Part V The Sun Chariot

17 Yet Did He Greatly Dare 483

18 Orphaned at Conception 523

19 The Planet's Heirs 550

Glossary 575

Notes 577

Bibliography 599

Acknowledgments 643

Index 645

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