Lynn Margulis: The Life and Legacy of a Scientific Rebel

Dorion Sagan, Author
Edited by Dorion Sagan. Chelsea Green, $27.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-60358446-3
Reviewed on: 10/29/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-60358-447-0
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There are two kinds of great scientists, writes former American Society of Microbiology president Moselio Schaechter in this eclectic, sometimes electrifying, book about biologist Lynn Margulis. There are those making "impressive experiments" and those making "groundbreaking theoretical syntheses." Margulis was the latter, notes Schaechter. Margulis fiercely championed evolutionary symbiogenesis, the merging of distinct organisms to form new organisms in swift, un-Darwinian leaps. Margulis was eventually proven right in some life forms. But her insistence that most evolution involves symbiogenesis led to a lifetime of debate. It also leads to some inspired writing in this book of essays, edited by Sagan, her son and cowriter (Dazzle Gradually: Reflectiions on the nature of Nature). "A dangerous liaison" is what Margulis felt drove species creation, writes Oxford paleobiologist Martin Brasier in one of the best essays. "A symbiosis between two distantly related organisms that wantonly swapped their genetic information to form completely new genetic strains." Some writing here reflects the idea that life is not a hierarchical tree, but a web, and embraces aspects of the controversial "Gaia" earth model which may put Traditional Darwinian scientists. But this is a captivating read for anyone interested in what powers great scientists. Color illus. (Oct.)
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