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Chelsea Green Launches Sciencewriters Imprint

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 20, 2006

Contact: Jessica Saturley, (802) 295-6300, ext. 106

CHELSEA GREEN PUBLISHING COMPANY is pleased to announce the launch of Sciencewriters Books, a new imprint to develop outstanding works of science for the general public. Sciencewriters Books will be codirected by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan, founders of Sciencewriters, an educational partnership devoted to advancing science through enchantment in the form of the finest possible books, videos, and other media (www.sciencewriters.org).

“We’re thrilled with this new alliance,” Margo Baldwin, publisher of the independent press announced today, “and we have no doubt this series will find an enthusiastic readership.”

CHELSEA GREEN PUBLISHING COMPANY’s mission is in line with the notion that we are citizens, not only of nations, but also of the biosphere and the universe, and our relationship with these “higher powers” will impact our survival as a species. Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan have authored thought-provoking and intellectually riveting science books for over a quarter century on topics that range from global ecology to the evolution of sex. Blending exciting writing with depth of knowledge and dedication to scientific integrity, Sciencewriters Books will publish new and established authors on cutting-edge topics that are key to our survival.

Lynn Margulis, Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst, received the 1999 National Medal of Science from President Bill Clinton. She has been a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences since 1983 and of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences since 1997. In 1998 the Library of Congress announced that it will permanently archive Margulis’s papers. Author, editor, or coauthor of chapters in more than forty books, she has published or been profiled in many journals, magazines, and books, among them Natural History, Science, Nature, New England Watershed, Scientific American, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Science Firsts, and The Scientific 100. She has made numerous contributions to the primary scientific literature of microbial evolution and cell biology.

Margulis comes from the south side of Chicago where she received an education on the streets. She graduated from The College of the University of Chicago at age nineteen. She received a joint master’s degree in genetics and zoology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. And conducted research on chloroplast DNA at the University of California, Berkeley.

Margulis’s theory of species evolution by symbiogenesis, put forth in Acquiring Genomes (2002), describes how speciation does not occur by random mutation alone but rather by symbiotic detente. Behavioral, chemical, and other interactions often lead to integration among organisms, members of different taxa. In well-documented cases some mergers create new species. Margulis demonstrates that intimacy – physical contact of strangers – is part of the engine of evolution and accelerates the process of change. Margulis works in the laboratory and field with many other scientists and students to show how specific ancient partnerships, in a given order over a billion years, generated the cells of the species we see with our unaided eyes. The fossil record, in fact, does not show Darwin’s predicted gradual changes between closely related species but rather the “punctuated equilibrium” pattern described by Eldredge and Gould: a jump from one to a different species. She has worked on the “revolution in evolution” since she was a graduate student.

Over the past decade and a half, Margulis has cowritten several books with Dorion Sagan, among them What is Sex? (1997), What is Life? (1995), Mystery Dance: On the Evolution of Human Sexuality (1991), Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Evolution from Our Microbial Ancestors (1986), and Origins of Sex: Three Billion Years of Genetic Recombination (1986). Her work with K. V. Schwartz provides a consistent formal classification of all life on Earth and has lead to the third edition of Five Kingdoms: An Illustrated Guide to the Phyla of Life on Earth (1998). Their classification scheme was generated from scientific results of myriad colleagues and its logical-genealogical basis is summarized in her single-authored book Symbiosis in Cell Evolution: Microbial Communities in the Achean and Proterozoic Eons (second edition, 1993). The bacterial origins of both chloroplasts and mitochondria are now well established. Currently with colleagues and students she explores the possible origin of cilia from spirochetes.

Since the mid-1970s, Margulis has aided James E. Lovelock, FRS, in documenting his Gaia Theory, which posits that the Earth’s surface interactions among living beings, rocks and soil, air and water have created a vast, self-regulating system. From the vantage point of outer space the Earth looks like an amazing being; from the vantage point of biochemistry it behaves in many ways like a giant organism.

Dorion Sagan is the author of numerous articles and sixteen books translated into eleven languages, including Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics, and Life (with Eric D. Schneider, 2005) and Up from Dragons: Evolution of Human Intelligence (with John Skoyles, 2002). His What is Life? (with Lynn Margulis) was chosen (with works by Billie Holiday, Shakespeare, and others) as one of fifty “mind-altering masterpieces” by the Utne Reader. Sagan’s essays are included in collections edited by Richard Dawkins and E. O. Wilson. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts–Amherst with a degree in history and has interests in philosophy and literature. Reviewing Sagan’s Microcosmos in the New York Times Book Review, Melvin Konner wrote: “This admiring reader of Carl Sagan, Lewis Thomas, and Stephen Jay Gould has seldom, if ever, seen such a luminous prose style in a work of this kind.” Sagan has written for The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, Wired, The Skeptical Inquirer, Pabular, The Smithsonian, The Ecologist, Omni, Natural History, and many others.Sciencewriters Books will begin to appear in the fall of 2006. Titles under the imprint include:

  • Animate Earth: Science, Intuition, and Gaia by Stephan Harding
  • Luminous Fish: Tales of Science and Love by Lynn Margulis
  • The Happiness Trip (translation of the current #1 best seller in Spain, El Viaje a la Felicidad, Planeta, 2005) by Eduardo Punset
  • Mind, Life, and Universe: Conversations with Great Scientists, edited by Lynn Margulis and Eduardo Punset
  • Dazzle Gradually: Essays on Ecology and Evolution, edited by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan
  • Notes from the Holocene: A Brief History of the Future, by Dorion Sagan
  • The Purpose of Life by Dorion Sagan and Eric D. Schneider
  • Chimera and Consciousness: Evolution of the Sensory Self, edited by Lynn Margulis and Celeste Asikainen

Chelsea Green Publishing Company was founded in 1984 by Ian and Margo Baldwin and is headquartered in White River Junction, Vermont. With a backlist of more than 350 titles, Chelsea Green is considered the preeminent publisher of books on the politics and practice of sustainable living. In 2004 the company published its first New York Times best seller, George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, which has sold more than 275,000 copies to date.

In a time of increasing awareness of the perils of global warming and peak oil, the addition of a science imprint is the logical next step in developing titles consistent with the company’s progressive mission. In particular, the attacks by right-wing politicians and religious fundamentalists on the credibility of scientists defending evolutionary theory and identifying climate change need to be countered by citizens aware of America’s history of free thinking and ingenuity as well humanity’s irreducible debt to the biosphere that—so far—supports us. Science does not stop at some politically-determined limit of inquiry; in the words of quantum physicist David Bohm, science is about the search for truth – “whether we like it or not.” As it turns out, properly presented, there is much to like. We invite open-minded critical thinkers everywhere to embark with us as Chelsea Green Publishing Company and Sciencewriters Books collaborate on what promises to be an exciting and informative voyage.


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