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On a desert island in the heart of the Galapagos archipelago, where Darwin received his first inklings of the theory of evolution, two scientists, Peter and Rosemary Grant, have spent twenty years proving that Darwin did not know the strength of his own theory. For among the finches of Daphne Major, natural selection is neither rare nor slow: it is taking place by the hour, and we can watch.In this dramatic story of groundbreaking scientific research, Jonathan Weiner follows these scientists as they watch Darwin’s finches and come up with a new understanding of life itself. The Beak of the Finch is an elegantly written and compelling masterpiece of theory and explication in the tradition of Stephen Jay Gould.
Looking over the shoulder of some of the premier scientists in the filed, Jonathan Weiner takes us into their laboratories to show us how pieces of DNA actually shape behavior. He focuses on the work of Seymour Benzer, who, decades ago, with James Watson and Francis Crick, helped to crack the genetic code. Then, in a simple experiment using a few test tubes, a light bulb, and 100 fruit flies, Benzer invented the genetic dissection of behavior. Now we see how he and his students find and study genes that build our inner clocks, genes that shape the way we love, and genes that decide what we can (or cannot) remember. These breakthroughs help explain secrets of human behavior and may lead to advance treatments for behavioral disorders ranging from rage to autism to schizophrenia.
In a narrative that sweeps from the first years of the century to the present, Weiner makes the process of scientific discovery and understanding almost tangible on the page. Time, Love, Memory is a brilliant work of scientific reportage.
From Jonathan Weiner, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Beak of the Finch, comes His Brother’s Keeper—the story of a young entrepreneur who gambles on the risky science of gene therapy to try to save his brother’s life.
Stephen Heywood was twenty-nine years old when he learned that he was dying of ALS—Lou Gehrig’s disease. Almost overnight his older brother, Jamie, turned himself into a genetic engineer in a quixotic race to cure the incurable. His Brother’s Keeper is a powerful account of their story, as they travel together to the edge of medicine.
The book brings home for all of us the hopes and fears of the new biology. In this dramatic and suspenseful narrative, Jonathan Weiner gives us a remarkable portrait of science and medicine today. We learn about gene therapy, stem cells, brain vaccines, and other novel treatments for such nerve-death diseases as ALS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s—diseases that afflict millions,…[more]