Of Flies, Mice, and Men
by Francois Jacob, Giselle Weiss (Translator)
Harvard Univ Pr
Molecular biology seems to crystallize our feelings about science. The promises and threats of knowledge are made plain as we peek around the corner and see genetic counseling, genome mapping, and cloning staring back at us. Pioneering researcher François Jacob--who shared the 1965 Nobel Prize for medicine--offers his thoughts on the past, present, and future of science in Of Flies, Mice & Men. As informal as a memoir, yet sharp and clever in its discussions of philosophy and politics, Jacob's book breaks new ground in popular-science publishing.
Not many scientists are comfortable quoting poets from Sophocles to Apollinaire, but Jacob weaves their words with his own beautiful prose to inspire the reader with new ways of thinking about science as a part of human life. His aim is not simply to retell the brief history of molecular biology but to put it in context and, more importantly, to show that this context is as important as the research itself. Jacob is one of the few scientists who recognize that science is easily abused, but that its course can't be stopped, or even slowed much. Rather than caving in to fatalism, he offers the hope that it can be guided, and he knows that a well-informed public is his best ally in this effort. The project is inspiring, if a little daunting; as he says, opening Pandora's box "condemned human beings to never-ending research." --Rob Lightner
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