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The Depths of Science and the Heart, Briefly Illuminated
Posted By admin On November 15, 2006 @ 3:04 pm In Chelsea Green News,Science, Nature & Environment | No Comments
“Luminous Fish is unadulterated Lynn Margulis, fascinating and fun all the way as you follow her characters—real and fictionalized—through the challenges and turmoils of life. Great reading!” —J. Woodland Hastings, Paul C. Mangelsdorf Professor of Natural Sciences, Harvard UniversityWhat place does passion have in a field known for rational detachment? What private pain haunts the conscience of the man who brought us the atomic bomb? In the face of human frailty, whither science? Renown evolutionist and author Lynn Margulis ponders such questions as she examines the personalities and passions she has known in her thirty-plus years in the rarified field of primary science—science for the sake of knowledge. Genius and profound dysfunction, deep love and monumental criminality all come together in these sketches of men and women whose lives, work and social relations change the world. Margulis’ deft eye and penetrating insight lay bare the love lives and foibles of three generations of scientists: from René, the naïve atmospheric chemist; to Georges, the workaholic space scientist; to Margulis’ memoir of her Sunday meeting with J. Robert Oppenheimer in 1955. The stories piece together portraits of people obsessive in their work and shares their memories of personal interactions between scientific colleagues. The struggles of parent scientists in particular come to the fore in these stories: struggles between mates, children and professional obligations. These tales will especially resonate with those who have worked with any aspect of the international scientific community, as well as anyone who has struggled to balance family and intellectual life. Luminous Fish weaves together memoir and stories of science from the inside—its thrills, disappointments and triumphs. A largely fictional account, it draws on Margulis’ decades of experience to portray the poor judgement, exhaustion, and life-threatening dedication of real scientists—their emotional preoccupations, sexual distractions, and zeal for scientific investigation. The arcane, exhilarating and routine world of research emerges from the shadows of its passive narrative into the sunlight of the personal voice of those who attempt to wrench secrets directly from nature. All of us who struggle to balance family, professional and social commitments with intellectual quests will be intrigued by the humanity of these tales. Lynn Margulis is Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She has been elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, and received the Presidential Medal of Science in 1999. Among her many books are Symbiotic Planet: A New Look at Evolution; Symbiosis in Cell Evolution: Microbial Communities in the Archean and Proterozoic Eons; What is Life?; What is Sex?; Acquiring Genomes: A Theory of the Origins of Species (last three with Dorion Sagan); and Five Kingdoms: An Illustrated Guide to the Phyla of Life on Earth (with K. V. Schwartz).
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