The Epic History of Biology

The Epic History of Biology

The Epic History of Biology

The Epic History of Biology

Synopsis

The search for our elusive human origins and an understanding of the mysteries of the human body have challenged the most inquisitive and imaginative thinkers from Egyptian times through the twentieth century. In The Epic History of Biology, Anthony Serafini - a distinguished philosopher and historian of science - regales the reader with the triumphs and failures of the geniuses of the life sciences. The subtleties of the animal kingdom - anatomy, zoology, and reproduction - along with the complexities of the plant kingdom, have fascinated humanity as far back as 5000 years ago. Astounding ancient knowledge of the arcane curing powers of herbs as well as early experimentation with different chemical combinations for such purposes as mummification led to today's biological technology. Innovative pioneers such as Aristotle, Galen, Hippocrates, and Vesalius challenged the limits of knowledge and single-mindedly pursued their work, often in the face of blind superstition. In superb, lyrical prose Serafini recreates the ideas and theories of these revolutionaries from ancient times through today, against the backdrop of the dogma and prejudices of their time. He explores the inspired revelations that gave birth to such discoveries as the controversial theory of evolution, the humble origins of genetics, the fantastic predictions of quantum mechanics, and the infinite promise of computer technology. Even today the biological sciences are undergoing rapid and kaleidoscopic changes. Every new insight gives rise to a myriad of new ethical questions and responsibilities. The Epic History of Biology confronts these issues head on and predicts the wondrous new directions biology will follow.

Excerpt

Of all the sciences, biology doubtless touches our lives in the most direct way. With new developments in recombinant DNA, cloning, new reproductive technologies, and environmental concerns, biology has taken on a significance perhaps greater than at any point in history.

Over the past one hundred fifty years or so, science has become increasingly subdivided. Correspondingly, the myth has appeared that it has become increasingly arcane and impenetrable to all but a handful of specialists. True, there have been a number of popular and accessible books on, for example, physics. The complexities of physics are, however, easily matched by the myriad subtleties and complexities of biology. Further, the history of biology is so immense that it is well-nigh impossible to cover all within the space limits set by the publisher. For these reasons, difficult decisions had to be made. I have spent more time on molecular biology, for example, than a classical biologist perhaps might like. I have all but passed over the Orient, since the history of eastern biology is a complete story in itself.

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