Generation: The Seventeenth-Century Scientists Who Unraveled the Secrets of Sex, Life, and Growth by Matthew Cobb Download (read online) free eBook (PDF ePub Kindle)

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

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, R

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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    Chelsea

    Jun 30, 2007

    rated it
    really liked it

    Recommends it for:
    people who did not spontaneously generate themselves

    Kurt laughed at me for checking this book out from the Berkeley Public Library when I don’t live in Northern California. And he was right to because I’ll probably end up paying overdue fines/shipping costs enough to buy my own hardcover copy, but sometimes I see things in the library and get really excited and can’t help myself.

    I wished that this book was longer. It’s jovial but clearly written by someone who has a soft spot for embryology/development. Whenever I read scientific papers that have

    I wished that this book was longer. It’s jovial but clearly written by someone who has a soft spot for embryology/development. Whenever I read scientific papers that have nothing to do with what I actually study, I often find myself gravitating to stuff about reproduction. So, while I think that 253 pages is probably enough for most people to read about dissecting ovaries and squirting hot wax into cadaver testicles, I wish that there had been more chapters that gave details about the more recent history of the field, rather than compressing the last 300 years into the 8th chapter.

    That being said, it’s a quick read, and has lots of amusing anecdotes about the way the scientific community evolved. Amusement aside it does a better job than most of respecting the wisdom and partial correctness of history’s debunked hypotheses, and it’s a good bit of science writing, and if you read this far, maybe you should read it.
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