Mark Ridley Cooperative Gene

ISBN 13: 9781439144046

Cooperative Gene

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Why isn't all life pond-scum? Why are there multimillion-celled, long-lived monsters like us, built from tens of thousands of cooperating genes? Mark Ridley presents a new explanation of how complex large life forms like ourselves came to exist, showing that the answer to the greatest mystery of evolution for modern science is not the selfish gene; it is the cooperative gene. In this thought-provoking book, Ridley breaks down how two major biological hurdles had to be overcome in order to allow living complexity to evolve: the proliferation of genes and gene-selfishness. Because complex life has more genes than simple life, the increase in gene numbers poses a particular problem for complex beings. The more genes, the more chance for copying error; it is far easier to make a mistake copying the Bible than it is copying an advertising slogan. To add to the difficulty, Darwin's concept of natural selection encourages genes that look out for themselves, selfish genes that could easily evolve to sabotage the development of complex life forms. By retracing the history of life on our planet -- from the initial wobbly, replicating molecules, through microbes, worms, and flies, and on to humans -- Ridley reveals how life evolved as a series of steps to manage error and to coerce genes to cooperate within each body. Like a benign and unseen hand -- what Ridley calls "Mendel's Demon" -- the combination of these strategies enacts Austrian monk Gregor Mendel's fundamental laws of inheritance. This demon offers startling new perspectives on issues from curing AIDS, the origins of sex and gender, and cloning, to the genetics of angels. Indeed, if we are ever to understand the biology of other planets, we will need more than Darwin; we will need to understand how Mendel's Demon made the cooperative gene into the fundamental element of life. What does the cooperative gene tell us about our future? With genetic technology burgeoning around the world, we must ask whether life will evolve to be even more complex than we already are. Human beings, Ridley concludes, may be near the limit of the possible, at least for earthly genetic mechanisms. But in the future, new genetic and reproductive biosystems could allow our descendants to increase their gene numbers and therefore their complexity. This process, he speculates, could lead to the evolution of life forms far stranger and more interesting than anything humanly discovered or imagined so far. Written with uncommon energy, force, and clarity, The Cooperative Gene is essential reading for anyone wishing to see behind the headlines of our genetic age. It is an eye-opening invitation to the biotech adventure humanity has already embarked upon.

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The Cooperative Gene is about sex and how sex enabled complex life to arise. Mark Ridley, a researcher and author of many works including the textbook Evolution, contends that simple life is "easy." Simple life like bacteria evolved as soon as conditions on Earth permitted. But complex life--walking, flying, swimming, squawking organisms with differentiated tissues--was a huge step forward. It took billions of years for complex life (and sex) to appear.

More than anything, organisms want to pass on their genes. Sex seems to defy natural selection in its ability to convince organisms to pass on only half their genes. Natural selection will favor "selfish" genes, ones that can beat the odds and get passed on. But if this happened all the time, complex life could not exist. So how does it? Enter what Ridley describes as "Mendel's demon," a system in which genes are passed on in a random fashion. Most important, the demon prevents selfish genes from sabotaging that randomness.

Although Gene isn't a technical book, its ideas are complicated. Ridley's style is methodical, broken by the occasional dryly humorous aside. Evolutionary biologists and other assorted PhDs will no doubt be entertained. Popular-science buffs may find it slow going, but they will be rewarded by a thorough understanding of the topic.

In his last two chapters, Ridley leaps further afield, exploring the influence of technology on human evolution and speculating how future science could change us. He also examines the idea of supercomplex organisms, beings that would tower over humans in complexity to the same degree that humans tower over bacteria. It's pure speculation but compelling nonetheless, worthy of its own book. --J. B. Peck

About the Author:

Mark Ridley pursues his research in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford. Formerly an assistant professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Ridley has also served as a research fellow at St. Catherine's College, Cambridge, and at Linacre, Oriel, and New Colleges in Oxford, all in England. His previous publications include The Problems of Evolution, Animal Behavior, and the highly acclaimed student textbook Evolution. Ridley frequently contributes to The New York Times, The Sunday Times, Nature, New Scientist, and The Times Literary Supplement. He lives in Oxford, England.

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9780743201612: The Cooperative Gene: How Mendel's Demon Explains the Evolution of Complex Beings

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ISBN 10:  0743201612 ISBN 13:  9780743201612
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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2008. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. Why isn t all life pond-scum? Why are there multimillion-celled, long-lived monsters like us, built from tens of thousands of cooperating genes? Mark Ridley presents a new explanation of how complex large life forms like ourselves came to exist, showing that the answer to the greatest mystery of evolution for modern science is not the selfish gene; it is the cooperative gene. In this thought-provoking book, Ridley breaks down how two major biological hurdles had to be overcome in order to allow living complexity to evolve: the proliferation of genes and gene-selfishness. Because complex life has more genes than simple life, the increase in gene numbers poses a particular problem for complex beings. The more genes, the more chance for copying error; it is far easier to make a mistake copying the Bible than it is copying an advertising slogan. To add to the difficulty, Darwin s concept of natural selection encourages genes that look out for themselves, selfish genes that could easily evolve to sabotage the development of complex life forms. By retracing the history of life on our planet -- from the initial wobbly, replicating molecules, through microbes, worms, and flies, and on to humans -- Ridley reveals how life evolved as a series of steps to manage error and to coerce genes to cooperate within each body. Like a benign and unseen hand -- what Ridley calls Mendel s Demon -- the combination of these strategies enacts Austrian monk Gregor Mendel s fundamental laws of inheritance. This demon offers startling new perspectives on issues from curing AIDS, the origins of sex and gender, and cloning, to the genetics of angels. Indeed, if we are ever to understand the biology of other planets, we will need more than Darwin; we will need to understand how Mendel s Demon made the cooperative gene into the fundamental element of life. What does the cooperative gene tell us about our future? With genetic technology burgeoning around the world, we must ask whether life will evolve to be even more complex than we already are. Human beings, Ridley concludes, may be near the limit of the possible, at least for earthly genetic mechanisms. But in the future, new genetic and reproductive biosystems could allow our descendants to increase their gene numbers and therefore their complexity. This process, he speculates, could lead to the evolution of life forms far stranger and more interesting than anything humanly discovered or imagined so far. Written with uncommon energy, force, and clarity, The Cooperative Gene is essential reading for anyone wishing to see behind the headlines of our genetic age. It is an eye-opening invitation to the biotech adventure humanity has already embarked upon. Seller Inventory # AAV9781439144046

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2008. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Why isn t all life pond-scum? Why are there multimillion-celled, long-lived monsters like us, built from tens of thousands of cooperating genes? Mark Ridley presents a new explanation of how complex large life forms like ourselves came to exist, showing that the answer to the greatest mystery of evolution for modern science is not the selfish gene; it is the cooperative gene. In this thought-provoking book, Ridley breaks down how two major biological hurdles had to be overcome in order to allow living complexity to evolve: the proliferation of genes and gene-selfishness. Because complex life has more genes than simple life, the increase in gene numbers poses a particular problem for complex beings. The more genes, the more chance for copying error; it is far easier to make a mistake copying the Bible than it is copying an advertising slogan. To add to the difficulty, Darwin s concept of natural selection encourages genes that look out for themselves, selfish genes that could easily evolve to sabotage the development of complex life forms. By retracing the history of life on our planet -- from the initial wobbly, replicating molecules, through microbes, worms, and flies, and on to humans -- Ridley reveals how life evolved as a series of steps to manage error and to coerce genes to cooperate within each body. Like a benign and unseen hand -- what Ridley calls Mendel s Demon -- the combination of these strategies enacts Austrian monk Gregor Mendel s fundamental laws of inheritance. This demon offers startling new perspectives on issues from curing AIDS, the origins of sex and gender, and cloning, to the genetics of angels. Indeed, if we are ever to understand the biology of other planets, we will need more than Darwin; we will need to understand how Mendel s Demon made the cooperative gene into the fundamental element of life. What does the cooperative gene tell us about our future? With genetic technology burgeoning around the world, we must ask whether life will evolve to be even more complex than we already are. Human beings, Ridley concludes, may be near the limit of the possible, at least for earthly genetic mechanisms. But in the future, new genetic and reproductive biosystems could allow our descendants to increase their gene numbers and therefore their complexity. This process, he speculates, could lead to the evolution of life forms far stranger and more interesting than anything humanly discovered or imagined so far. Written with uncommon energy, force, and clarity, The Cooperative Gene is essential reading for anyone wishing to see behind the headlines of our genetic age. It is an eye-opening invitation to the biotech adventure humanity has already embarked upon. Seller Inventory # AAV9781439144046

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Book Description Free Press. Paperback. Condition: New. 336 pages. Dimensions: 8.9in. x 6.0in. x 0.9in.Why isnt all life pond-scum Why are there multimillion-celled, long-lived monsters like us, built from tens of thousands of cooperating genes Mark Ridley presents a new explanation of how complex large life forms like ourselves came to exist, showing that the answer to the greatest mystery of evolution for modern science is not the selfish gene; it is the cooperative gene. In this thought-provoking book, Ridley breaks down how two major biological hurdles had to be overcome in order to allow living complexity to evolve: the proliferation of genes and gene-selfishness. Because complex life has more genes than simple life, the increase in gene numbers poses a particular problem for complex beings. The more genes, the more chance for copying error; it is far easier to make a mistake copying the Bible than it is copying an advertising slogan. To add to the difficulty, Darwins concept of natural selection encourages genes that look out for themselves, selfish genes that could easily evolve to sabotage the development of complex life forms. By retracing the history of life on our planet -- from the initial wobbly, replicating molecules, through microbes, worms, and flies, and on to humans -- Ridley reveals how life evolved as a series of steps to manage error and to coerce genes to cooperate within each body. Like a benign and unseen hand -- what Ridley calls Mendels Demon -- the combination of these strategies enacts Austrian monk Gregor Mendels fundamental laws of inheritance. This demon offers startling new perspectives on issues from curing AIDS, the origins of sex and gender, and cloning, to the genetics of angels. Indeed, if we are ever to understand the biology of other planets, we will need more than Darwin; we will need to understand how Mendels Demon made the cooperative gene into the fundamental element of life. What does the cooperative gene tell us about our future With genetic technology burgeoning around the world, we must ask whether life will evolve to be even more complex than we already are. Human beings, Ridley concludes, may be near the limit of the possible, at least for earthly genetic mechanisms. But in the future, new genetic and reproductive biosystems could allow our descendants to increase their gene numbers and therefore their complexity. This process, he speculates, could lead to the evolution of life forms far stranger and more interesting than anything humanly discovered or imagined so far. Written with uncommon energy, force, and clarity, The Cooperative Gene is essential reading for anyone wishing to see behind the headlines of our genetic age. It is an eye-opening invitation to the biotech adventure humanity has already embarked upon. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Seller Inventory # 9781439144046

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