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Generation: The Seventeenth-Century…
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Generation: The Seventeenth-Century Scientists Who Unraveled the Secrets… (udgave 2006)

af Matthew Cobb

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
754284,677 (3.94)1
Four rival anatomists and their race to answer the age-old question: Where does life come from? Generation is the story of the exciting, largely forgotten decade during the seventeenth century when a group of young scientists--Jan Swammerdam, the son of a Protestant apothecary, Nils Stensen (also known as Steno), a Danish anatomist who first discovered the human tear duct, Reinier de Graaf, the attractive and brilliant son of a rich and successful Catholic architect, and Antoni Leeuwenhoek, a self-taught draper--dared to challenge thousands of years of orthodox thinking about where life comes from. By meticulous experimentation, dissection, and observation with the newly invented microscope, they showed that like breeds like, that all animals come from an egg, that there is no such thing as spontaneous generation, and that there are millions of tiny, wriggling "eels" in semen. However, their ultimate inability to fully understand the evidence that was in front of them led to a fatal mistake. As a result, the final leap in describing the process of reproduction--which would ultimately give birth to the science of genetics--took nearly two centuries for humanity to achieve. Including previously untranslated documents, Generation interweaves the personal stories of these scientists against a backdrop of the Dutch "Golden Age." It is a riveting account of the audacious men who swept away old certainties and provided the foundation for much of our current understanding of the living world.… (mere)
Medlem:murphysci
Titel:Generation: The Seventeenth-Century Scientists Who Unraveled the Secrets of Sex, Life, and Growth
Forfattere:Matthew Cobb
Info:Bloomsbury USA (2006), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 256 pages
Samlinger:Room 253 Books
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:MURPHY0081

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Generation: The Seventeenth-Century Scientists Who Unraveled the Secrets of Sex, Life, and Growth af Matthew Cobb

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Although the book's subject is the birth of our understanding of reproduction in the 1600s, its themes are excitingly broad, touching on the role of contingency, social structure and prevailing models in steering the conclusions scientists draw. Some of the don't-put-jam-on-a-magnet madness that passed for science in the 17th century could have been easily ascribed to the lack of a rigorous scientific method or certain experimental tools, but Cobb looks further, and the conclusions he draws are highly relevant to understanding the culture and practice of science even in the present day. The conversational style and rich historical detail made this a very pleasant read.
  sockatume | Jun 23, 2019 |
Quite a well done popular history of the significant (if not complete) progress made toward the understanding of animal reproduction in the seventeenth century, by such characters as Steno, Swammerdam, van Horne, de Graaf, Redi, Leeuwenhoek and others. Cobb writes for a popular audience, ably distilling the discoveries (and ensuing feuds) of his subjects. The final chapter feels rather rushed as Cobb tries to bring the field up to the present, but other than that, this is very much worth a read if you have even a passing interest in the history of science in general and the debate over the nature of reproduction specifically. ( )
  JBD1 | Jan 19, 2015 |
If you enjoy the history of science, this is an excellent book. It covers fresh territory, highlighting especially a group of relatively unknown 17th century thinkers who tried to understand "generation", i.e. reproduction, which, given a complete lack of understanding of genetics, was especially tricky. The characters act as many of their time did -- jealous and petty at times regarding their reputations, but brilliant and quirky in a way that often showed remarkable insight on almost unattainable evidence. In some ways, it reminds us that for all of our DNA mapping and genetic engineering the creation of new life is still a marvelous and wondrous event. I did downgrade it a bit, however, because he didn't either stop and complete his story at the 17th century or give us a full completion up to the 21st, which left all the material in the later chapters feeling rushed and incomplete. ( )
  NellieMc | Apr 21, 2008 |
A very enjoyable book - shows you not to take human knowledge for granted and also gives an important story from possibly the greatest era in science. It is somewhat surprising how recently we figured out most of the story on "where babies come from", and how much of it was worked out over a short period during the late 17th century. It's also worth a few good laughs - there are some interesting quotes from the scientist who did the work justifying their "sample collection" that you might not expect in a journal article these days. ( )
  jlbrownn23 | Oct 23, 2007 |
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Four rival anatomists and their race to answer the age-old question: Where does life come from? Generation is the story of the exciting, largely forgotten decade during the seventeenth century when a group of young scientists--Jan Swammerdam, the son of a Protestant apothecary, Nils Stensen (also known as Steno), a Danish anatomist who first discovered the human tear duct, Reinier de Graaf, the attractive and brilliant son of a rich and successful Catholic architect, and Antoni Leeuwenhoek, a self-taught draper--dared to challenge thousands of years of orthodox thinking about where life comes from. By meticulous experimentation, dissection, and observation with the newly invented microscope, they showed that like breeds like, that all animals come from an egg, that there is no such thing as spontaneous generation, and that there are millions of tiny, wriggling "eels" in semen. However, their ultimate inability to fully understand the evidence that was in front of them led to a fatal mistake. As a result, the final leap in describing the process of reproduction--which would ultimately give birth to the science of genetics--took nearly two centuries for humanity to achieve. Including previously untranslated documents, Generation interweaves the personal stories of these scientists against a backdrop of the Dutch "Golden Age." It is a riveting account of the audacious men who swept away old certainties and provided the foundation for much of our current understanding of the living world.

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