Of Flies, Mice, & Men: On the Revolution in Modern Biology by One of the Scientists Who Helped Make It

Francois Jacob, Author, Franois Jacob, Author, Franaois Jacob, Author Harvard University Press $24 (166p) ISBN 978-0-674-63111-3
Part autobiography, part biology primer and part discourse on the role of scientific research, this slim volume by the winner of the 1965 Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology fuses an elegant history of molecular biology with a recounting of the development of Jacob's (The Possible and the Actual; The Statue Within; etc.) own landmark research into the mechanisms of gene regulation in microorganisms. ""The history of molecular biology,"" Jacob writes in his introduction, ""provides a model for understanding how original research takes shape."" Using references to Greek mythology and literature, personal experience and historical anecdote, Jacob spices up his narratives with ruminations on the changing roles and responsibilities of scientists. In addition, because of its often controversial nature, molecular biology--genetics in particular--offers a model for understanding the relationship between politics and science. Jacob clearly believes that scientists should not work in isolation and that both the political and the investigative processes should shape the ways in which we use the discoveries made in the laboratory. To those who would limit the topics open to scientific investigation, he states simply and forcefully: ""The biggest danger for humankind is not the development of knowledge, but of ignorance."" Well written and accessible to nonscientists, his book provides valuable insight into the workings of a powerful thinker and the field to which he has chosen to apply himself. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/18/1999
Release date: 01/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 166 pages - 978-0-674-00538-9
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