Nature's Oracle: The Life and Work of W. D. Hamilton

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9780198607274: Nature's Oracle: The Life and Work of W. D. Hamilton
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Hailed by Richard Dawkins as "the most distinguished Darwinian since Darwin," W. D. Hamilton was one of the truly innovative scientists of the 20th century, responsible for a sea change in our thinking about evolution--and in our understanding of life itself.

In this illuminating and moving biography, Ullica Segerstrale captures Hamilton's extraordinary life and work, revealing a man of immense intellectual curiosity, an uncompromising truth-seeker, a naturalist and jungle explorer. Segerstrale's detailed research reveals the internal tensions and conflicts behind Hamilton's creative genius, and the narrative is peppered with personal anecdotes of this eccentric yet brilliant scientist. The book shows how Hamilton throughout his life was a man against the grain, whose iconoclastic views challenged the scientific and medical establishment--and even caused controversy at the Vatican. In fact, Hamilton was so against the grain that his early career was a classic case of misunderstood genius, whose work was invariably attacked upon publication and only later proclaimed a major breakthrough. Among his insights was that what matters in evolution is not the survival of the individual but of the survival of its genes, an idea that solved the longstanding problem of animal altruism that vexed even Darwin himself. He also proposed the well-known Red Queen theory of the evolution of sex and he helped open up many new fields (including sociobiology), shaping much of our current understanding of evolution.

Here then is an informed and engaging biography of one of the most influential scientists of our time, an unconventional thinker with a poet's soul and a deep concern for life on earth and mankind's future.

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About the Author:


Ullica Segerstrale is Professor of Sociology at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago and director of its Camras Scholars Program.

Segerstrale holds a PhD in sociology from Harvard, a MA in communication from the University of Pennsylvania, and MS degrees in both organic chemistry and sociology from the University of Helsinki. She has held Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships, and been supported by the American Philosophical Society, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Sloan Foundation, among others. Segerstrale is a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, and the Finnish Academy of Sciences and Letters.
She has received a number of awards for teaching, leadership and research.

Segerstrale has written and lectured widely internationally on science and values, the ethics of research, and the debates about what it means to be human. Among her books are Defenders of the truth: The battle for science in the sociobiology debate and beyond (Oxford, 2000), Beyond the science wars: The missing discourse about science and society (SUNY Press, 2000), and Nonverbal communication: Where nature meets culture (Erlbaum, 1997). Defenders of the Truth has been translated into Japanese and Beyond the Science Wars into Chinese.

Review:


"I suspect that, of all his twentieth century successors, Darwin would most have enjoyed talking to Hamilton. Partly because they could have swapped jungle tales and beetle lore, partly because both were gentle and deep, but mostly because Hamilton the theorist was responsible for clearing up so many of the very problems that had intrigued and tantalized Darwin." --Richard Dawkins


"William Hamilton's name stands above all others in evolutionary biology since the Modern Synthesis of the 1930s and '40s. As John Maynard Smith, with whom he had a troubled relationship, said, "He's the only bloody genius we've got." As geniuses often are, he was
a complex character and an exceptional challenge for any biographer. Ullica Segerstrale is ideally qualified to rise to that challenge. She achieves a genuinely affectionate yet warts-and-all portrait of her subject, combined with a good understanding of the deep subtleties of his thinking. Those who loved him, as I did, and those who wish to know more of the astonishing originality and versatility of his contributions to science, will treasure
this book." -- Richard Dawkins


"This is an outstanding biography of a truly brilliant scientist. Segerstrale beautifully interweaves Hamilton's epic work with the details of his life." -- Robert L. Trivers


"Bill Hamilton's remarkable story has now been told: a truly great naturalist, who thought his way to the very heart of evolution by natural selection, completing and expanding the insights of Darwin as he discovered the disorienting and enlightening perspective of the gene itself." -- Matt Ridley, author of The Red Queen


"Bill Hamilton is the greatest evolutionary biologist of the last hundred years. Among other achievements are breakthroughs on two of Darwin's enduring puzzles: why individuals are often altruistic even in a competitive world, and why sexual reproduction is so common despite its two-fold cost. Throughout his life Hamilton was driven by intense curiosity, insightful creativity, and intellectual courage. He submitted himself to the bites of a thousand types of insects in the Amazon jungle, and the stings of a hundred varieties of sceptical reviewers from academic journals. Professor Segerstrale's definitive intellectual biography lucidly explains what Hamilton accomplished and-more importantly-how he did it." -- Robert Axelrod, author of The Evolution of Cooperation


"In this superb biography, Segerstrale brings this brilliant, brooding man to life as a meticulous naturalist, ingenious theorizer, prickly introvert, eccentric risk-taker and reflective defender of the underdogs...An expert on the debates surrounding sociobiology in the early years, Segerstrale does a wonderful job of summarizing Hamilton's main arguments and the scientific debates that he was weighing in on at the time . . . It has been ages since I enjoyed a book so much." -- Sarah Hrdy, author of Mother Nature and Mothers and Others


"The skilled historian Ullica Segerstrale has had full access to Hamilton's papers and letters and has done the subject full justice." --Quarterly Review of Biology


"Ullica Segerstrale... has produced an interesting and readable biography based on Hamilton's letters, published work and the testimonies of friends and family. It is detailed and uncompromising." --The Biologist


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9780198607281: Nature's Oracle: The Life and Work of W.D. Hamilton

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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2013. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. W.D.Hamilton (1936-2000) was responsible for a revolution in thinking about evolutionary biology - a revolution that changed our understanding of life itself. He played a central role in the realization that what matters in evolution is not the survival of the individual but of the survival of its genes. This provided the solution to the long standing problem of animal altruism that vexed even Darwin himself, and in due course resulted in terms like selfish genes, kin selection, and sociobiology becoming familiar to a wider public. Hamilton went on to solve many more major problems, and open up ever new fields - he shaped much of our current understanding of central problems including the evolution of sexual reproduction and ageing. He became world famous and garnered international prizes. But this is all in hindsight. In fact, Hamilton s recognition came late - his career is a classic case of misunderstood genius. In this illuminating and moving biography Ullica Segerstrale documents Hamilton s extraordinary life and work, revealing a man of immense intellectual curiosity, an uncompromising truth-seeker, a naturalist and jungle explorer, a risk-taker, an unconventional scientist with a poet s soul and a deep concern for life on earth and mankind s future. Seller Inventory # AAU9780198607274

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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2013. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. W.D.Hamilton (1936-2000) was responsible for a revolution in thinking about evolutionary biology - a revolution that changed our understanding of life itself. He played a central role in the realization that what matters in evolution is not the survival of the individual but of the survival of its genes. This provided the solution to the long standing problem of animal altruism that vexed even Darwin himself, and in due course resulted in terms like selfish genes, kin selection, and sociobiology becoming familiar to a wider public. Hamilton went on to solve many more major problems, and open up ever new fields - he shaped much of our current understanding of central problems including the evolution of sexual reproduction and ageing. He became world famous and garnered international prizes. But this is all in hindsight. In fact, Hamilton s recognition came late - his career is a classic case of misunderstood genius. In this illuminating and moving biography Ullica Segerstrale documents Hamilton s extraordinary life and work, revealing a man of immense intellectual curiosity, an uncompromising truth-seeker, a naturalist and jungle explorer, a risk-taker, an unconventional scientist with a poet s soul and a deep concern for life on earth and mankind s future. Seller Inventory # AAU9780198607274

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