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The fate of gender : nature, nurture, and the human future
by Browning, Frank, 1946-

9781620406199Frank BrowningThe Fate of Gender: Nature, Nurture, and the Human FutureFrank Browning takes us into human gender geographies around the world, from gender-neutral kindergartens in Chicago and Oslo to women's masturbation classes in Shanghai, from conservative Catholics in Paris fearful of God and Nature to transsexual Mormon parents in Utah. As he shares specific and engaging human stories, he also elucidates the neuroscience that distinguishes male and female biology, shows us how all parents' brains change during the first weeks of parenthood, and finally howmen's and women's responses to age differ worldwide based not on biology but on their earlier life habits. Starting with Simone de Beauvoir's world-famous observation that one is not born a woman but instead becomes a woman, Browning goes on to show equally that no one is born a man but learns how to perform as a man, and that there is no fixed way of being masculine or feminine. Increasingly, the categories of "male" and "female" and even "gay" and "straight" seem old-fashioned and reductive. Just visible on the horizon is a world of gender and sexual fluidity that will remake our world in fundamental ways. Linking science to culture and behavior, and delving into the lives of individuals challenging historic notions, Browning questions the traditional division of Nature vs. Nurture in everything from plant science to sexual expression, arguing in the end that life consists of an endless waltz between these two ancient notions. - Description from Syndetics

Regenesis [electronic resource] : how synthetic biology will reinvent nature and ourselve
by Church, George M. (George McDonald) Regis, Edward, 1944-

9780465033294George M. Church; Edward RegisRegenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and OurselvesEveryone has heard of genetic engineering: we eat engineered foods, we take drugs made in engineered bacteria and yeast, and someday soon may drive our cars on fuel produced by engineered microorganisms. "Regenesis" is the story of where these technologies came from, and where theyOCOre going, told by the man leading the revolution: Harvard genetics professor George Church. While traditional genetic engineering introduces changes to an organism a few genes at a time, genomic engineering introduces changes on a wholesale basis, allowing for unprecedented feats of synthetic biological engineering. (The technique, called MAGE, was invented by the author.) In "Regenesis," Church argues for the great potential of this technology, not only to make existing organisms more useful, but for inventing wholly new speciesOCobacterial, animal, and human. It promises to be a strange future, with biohackers building organisms in their garages, companies manufacturing toolkits of DNA parts for creating living machines, and much else. Researchers have already managed to get microbes to produce jet fuel, gasoline, and electricity. And even vaccines, drugs, and industrial chemicals (OC green chemistryOCO). They can reprogram bacteria to metabolize greenhouse gases and convert them into harmless, even beneficial substances. Still, incredible as they might seem, these exploits are minor advances compared to the catalog of wonders that full-blown genomic engineering will make possible, from resurrecting woolly mammoths and other extinct organisms to creating mirror life forms immune to disease. The rise of synthetic biology marks a fundamental transformation in the relationship between biology and nature. When humans can control the genetic makeup of organisms to the extent foreseen by synthetic biologists, nature will no longer be the exclusive arbiter of life, death, and evolution. "Regenesis" reveals what this not so far off future will look like. - Description from Syndetics

Life in the dark : illuminating biodiversity in the shadowy haunts of planet earth
by Fenolio, Danté B. (Danté Bruce)

9781421418636Danté FenolioLife in the Dark: Illuminating Biodiversity in the Shadowy Haunts of Planet EarthDeep inside caves, at the bottoms of oceans and lakes, beneath the ground: these concealed habitats are absent of sunlight. This strange and fascinating world of complete darkness is not a solitary place--it is inhabited by millions of life forms. Yet most humans--creatures of daylight--have never seen any of them. Until now. In this fascinating--sometimes eerie--book, extreme wildlife photographer and scientist Danté Fenolio brings the denizens of these shadowy haunts into focus. Life in the Dark shows us the many ways in which life forms have adapted to lightless environments, including refinements of senses, evolution of unique body parts, and illumination using "biological flashlights." With more than 200 mesmerizing color photographs, Life in the Dark unveils bizarre creatures like the firefly squid, the giant Amazonian catfish, the Chinese cavefish, and even the human bot fly, which lives in the darkness beneath its host's skin. Fenolio's rich and vibrant images shed new light on the world's fascinating creatures of darkness. - Description from Syndetics

Epigenetics : the ultimate mystery of inheritance
by Francis, Richard C., 1953-

9780393070057Richard C. FrancisEpigenetics: The Ultimate Mystery of InheritanceTime to worry again--our lifestyle choices do impact our genetic code and that of our children (and even grandchildren!). "The potential is staggering. . . . The age of epigenetics has arrived."-- Time , January 2010 Epigenetic means "on the gene," and the term refers to the recent discovery that stress in the environment can impact an individual's physiology so deeply that those biological scars are actually inherited by the next several generations. For instance, a recent study has shown that men who started smoking before puberty caused their sons to have significantly higher rates of obesity. And obesity is just the tip of the iceberg--many researchers believe that epigenetics holds the key to understanding cancer, Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, autism, and diabetes. Epigenetics is the first book for general readers on this fascinating and important topic. The book is driven by stories such as the Dutch famine of World War II, José Canseco and steroids, the breeding of mules and hinnies, Tazmanian devils and contagious cancer, and more. - Description from Syndetics

The book that changed America : how Darwin's theory of evolution ignited a nation
by Fuller, Randall, 1963-

9780525428336Randall FullerThe Book That Changed America: How Darwin's Theory of Evolution Ignited a NationA compelling portrait of a unique moment in American history when the ideas of Charles Darwin reshaped American notions about nature, religion, science and race "A lively and informative history." - The New York Times Book Review Throughout its history America has been torn in two by debates over ideals and beliefs. Randall Fuller takes us back to one of those turning points, in 1860, with the story of the influence of Charles Darwin's just-published On the Origin of Species on five American intellectuals, including Bronson Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, the child welfare reformer Charles Loring Brace, and the abolitionist Franklin Sanborn. Each of these figures seized on the book's assertion of a common ancestry for all creatures as a powerful argument against slavery, one that helped provide scientific credibility to the cause of abolition. Darwin's depiction of constant struggle and endless competition described America on the brink of civil war. But some had difficulty aligning the new theory to their religious convictions and their faith in a higher power. Thoreau, perhaps the most profoundly affected all, absorbed Darwin's views into his mysterious final work on species migration and the interconnectedness of all living things. Creating a rich tableau of nineteenth-century American intellectual culture, as well as providing a fascinating biography of perhaps the single most important idea of that time, The Book That Changed America is also an account of issues and concerns still with us today, including racism and the enduring conflict between science and religion. - Description from Syndetics

Beyond human : how cutting-edge science is extending our lives
by Herold, Eve

9780312375218Eve HeroldBeyond Human: How Cutting-Edge Science Is Extending Our LivesNever before in the history of medicine has mankind faced such hope and peril as those of us poised to embrace the radical medical technologies of today. Eve Herold's Beyond Human examines the medical technologies taking shape at the nexus of computing, microelectronics, engineering, nanotechnology, cellular and gene therapies, and robotics. These technologies will dramatically transform our lives and allow us to live for hundreds of years. Yet, with these blessings come complicated practical and ethical issues, some of which we can predict, but many we cannot. Beyond Human taps the minds of doctors, scientists, and engineers engaged in developing a host of new technologies while telling the stories of some of the patients courageously testing the radical new treatments about to come into the market. Beyond Human asks the difficult questions of the scientists and bioethicists who seek to ensure that as our bodies and brains become ever more artificial, we hold onto our humanity. In this new world, will everyone have access to technological miracles, or will we end up living in a world of radical disparities? How will society accommodate life spans that extend into hundreds of years? Will we and our descendants be able to bring about the dream of a future liberated by technology, or will we end up merely serving the machines and devices that keep us healthy, smart, young, and alive? - Description from Syndetics

Synthetic biology and morality : artificial life and the bounds of nature
by Kaebnick, Gregory E., editor. Murray, Thomas H., editor

9780262019392Gregory E. Kaebnick (Editor); Thomas H. Murray (Editor)Synthetic Biology and Morality: Artificial Life and the Bounds of NatureSynthetic biology, which aims to design and build organisms that serve human needs,has potential applications that range from producing biofuels to programming human behavior. Theemergence of this new form of biotechnology, however, raises a variety of ethical questions -- firstand foremost, whether synthetic biology is intrinsically troubling in moral terms. Is it anegregious example of scientists "playing God"? Synthetic Biology andMorality takes on this threshold ethical question, as well as others that follow, offeringa range of philosophical and political perspectives on the power of syntheticbiology. The contributors consider the basic question of the ethics of making neworganisms, with essays that lay out the conceptual terrain and offer opposing views of the intrinsicmoral concerns; discuss the possibility that synthetic organisms are inherently valuable; andaddress whether, and how, moral objections to synthetic biology could be relevant to policy makingand political discourse. Variations of these questions have been raised before, in debates overother biotechnologies, but, as this book shows, they take on novel and illuminating form whenconsidered in the context of syntheticbiology. Contributors John Basl, Mark A. Bedau, Joachim Boldt,John H. Evans, Bruce Jennings, Gregory E. Kaebnick, Ben Larson, Andrew Lustig, Jon Mandle, Thomas H.Murray, Christopher J. Preston, Ronald Sandler - Description from Syndetics

The story of the human body : evolution, health, and disease
by Lieberman, Daniel, 1964-

9780307379412Daniel E. LiebermanThe Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and DiseaseIn this landmark book of popular science, Daniel E. Lieberman--chair of the department of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University and a leader in the field--gives us a lucid and engaging account of how the human body evolved over millions of years, even as it shows how the increasing disparity between the jumble of adaptations in our Stone Age bodies and advancements in the modern world is occasioning this paradox: greater longevity but increased chronic disease.   The Story of the Human Body brilliantly illuminates as never before the major transformations that contributed key adaptations to the body: the rise of bipedalism; the shift to a non-fruit-based diet; the advent of hunting and gathering, leading to our superlative endurance athleticism; the development of a very large brain; and the incipience of cultural proficiencies. Lieberman also elucidates how cultural evolution differs from biological evolution, and how our bodies were further transformed during the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions.   While these ongoing changes have brought about many benefits, they have also created conditions to which our bodies are not entirely adapted, Lieberman argues, resulting in the growing incidence of obesity and new but avoidable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. Lieberman proposes that many of these chronic illnesses persist and in some cases are intensifying because of "dysevolution," a pernicious dynamic whereby only the symptoms rather than the causes of these maladies are treated. And finally--provocatively--he advocates the use of evolutionary information to help nudge, push, and sometimes even compel us to create a more salubrious environment. (With charts and line drawings throughout.) - Description from Syndetics

The body builders : inside the science of the engineered human
by Piore, Adam

9780062347145Adam PioreThe Body Builders: Inside the Science of the Engineered HumanFareed Zakaria GPS Book of the Week Weaving together vivid storytelling and groundbreaking science, The Body Builders explores the current revolution in human augmentation, which is helping us to triumph over the limitations and constraints we have long accepted as an inevitable part of being human For millennia, humans have tried--and often failed--to master nature and transcend our limits. But this has started to change. The new scientific frontier is the human body: the greatest engineers of our generation have turned their sights inward, and their work is beginning to revolutionize mankind. In The Body Builders, Adam Piore takes us on a fascinating journey into the field of bioengineering--which can be used to reverse engineer, rebuild, and augment human beings--and paints a vivid portrait of the people at its center. Chronicling the ways new technology has retooled our physical expectations and mental processes, Piore visits people who have regrown parts of their fingers and legs in the wake of terrible traumas, tries on a muscle suit that allows him to lift ninety pounds with his fingertips, dips into the race to create "Viagra for the brain," and shadows the doctors trying to give mute patients the ability to communicate telepathically. As science continues to lay bare the mysteries of human performance, it is helping us to see--and exist--above our expectations. The Body Builders will take readers beyond the headlines and the hype to introduce them to the inner workings and the outer reaches of our bodies and minds, and explore how new developments are changing, and will forever change, what is possible for humankind. - Description from Syndetics

Designing human practices : an experiment with synthetic biology
by Rabinow, Paul, author. Bennett, Gaymon, 1972- author

9780226703138Paul Rabinow; Gaymon BennettDesigning Human Practices: An Experiment with Synthetic BiologyIn 2006 anthropologists Paul Rabinow and Gaymon Bennett set out to rethink the role that human sciences play in biological research, creating the Human Practices division of the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center--a facility established to create design standards for the engineering of new enzymes, genetic circuits, cells, and other biological entities--to formulate a new approach to the ethical, security, and philosophical considerations of controversial biological work. They sought not simply to act as watchdogs but to integrate the biosciences with their own discipline in a more fundamentally interdependent way, inventing a new, dynamic, and experimental anthropology that they could bring to bear on the center's biological research. Designing Human Practices is a detailed account of this anthropological experiment and, ultimately, its rejection. It provides new insights into the possibilities and limitations of collaboration, and diagnoses the micro-politics which effectively constrained the potential for mutual scientific flourishing. Synthesizing multiple disciplines, including biology, genetics, anthropology, and philosophy, alongside a thorough examination of funding entities such as the National Science Foundation, Designing Human Practices pushes the social study of science into new and provocative territory, utilizing a real-world experience as a springboard for timely reflections on how the human and life sciences can and should transform each other. - Description from Syndetics

Synthetic : how life got made
by Roosth, Sophia

9780226440323Sophia RoosthSynthetic: How Life Got MadeIn the final years of the twentieth century, émigrés from engineering and computer science devoted themselves to biology and resolved that if the aim of biology is to understand life, then making life would yield better theories than experimentation. Armed with the latest biotechnology techniques, these scientists treated biological media as elements for design and manufacture: viruses named for computers, bacterial genomes encoding passages from James Joyce, chimeric yeast buckling under the metabolic strain of genes harvested from wormwood, petunias, and microbes from Icelandic thermal pools. In Synthetic: How Life Got Made , cultural anthropologist Sophia Roosth reveals how synthetic biologists make new living things in order to understand better how life works. The first book-length ethnographic study of this discipline, Synthetic documents the social, cultural, rhetorical, economic, and imaginative transformations biology has undergone in the post-genomic age. Roosth traces this new science from its origins at MIT to start-ups, laboratories, conferences, and hackers' garages across the United States--even to contemporary efforts to resurrect extinct species. Her careful research reveals that rather than opening up a limitless new field, these biologists' own experimental tactics circularly determine the biological features, theories, and limits they fasten upon. Exploring the life sciences emblematic of our time, Synthetic tells the origin story of the astonishing claim that biological making fosters biological knowing. - Description from Syndetics

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