Herding Hemingway’s Cats: Understanding How Our Genes Work

Kat Arney. Bloomsbury/Sigma, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4729-1004-2
Writing in a breezy, irreverent style, Arney, a science journalist specializing in genetics, explores what is known about the inner workings of the genome. Her results are both fascinating and surprising. As Arney demonstrates, scientists have uncovered a huge amount since the 1953 discovery of DNA’s double helix structure. Scientists can now read DNA sequences easily and quickly, they understand that much of the “junk” DNA in our cells probably plays a role in controlling the functioning of our genes, and they have come to grips with the fact that pieces of DNA occasionally “jump” around the genome. But Arney also points out that much remains unknown. At the most basic level, it is no longer clear that scientists have a meaningful or concise definition of a gene, and the nature of gene regulation has turned out to be far more complex than most originally thought. Arney interviews a host of scientists at the cutting edge of genetics and provides insight into their experiments, as well as into the scientific enterprise. She dismantles some of the commonly accepted wisdom about epigenetics and discusses how some traits might be passed from parent to offspring without the direct involvement of DNA. Both specialists and general readers will find much to savor in Arney’s excellent work. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/11/2016
Release date: 03/01/2016
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-4729-1005-9
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4729-1006-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-5226-4232-9
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