Chelsea Green Publishing

Luminous Fish

Pages:192 pages
Size: 5.25 x 8 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Hardcover: 9781933392332
Pub. Date March 07, 2007
eBook: 9781603580397
Pub. Date March 07, 2007

Luminous Fish

Tales of Science and Love

Availability: In Stock

Hardcover

Available Date:
March 07, 2007

$21.95

Availability: In Stock

eBook

Available Date:
March 07, 2007

$21.95 $17.56

This collection of linked stories by internationally renowned evolutionist Lynn Margulis reveals science from the inside--its thrills, disappointments, and triumphs. A largely fictional account, it draws on her decades of experience to portray the poor judgment, exhaustion, and life-threatening dedication of real scientists--their emotional preoccupations, sexual distractions, and passions for research. The esoteric, demanding, sometimes exhilarating world of science 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 quest will be intrigued by the humanity of these tales.

REVIEWS AND PRAISE

"A real encounter between a young Lynn Margulis and J. Robert Oppenheimer and his family complements four gently linked stories. I think of a multidimensional tango, of men and women to be sure, but also of two less predictable partners--love and science. Margulis' first fiction is as intriguing as her research in evolution!"--Roald Hoffmann, winner, Nobel Prize in Chemistry

"Difficult artists and writers are plentiful in fiction, but Lynn Margulis has a unique and vivid gift for portraying work-driven scientists and their mystified, vexed, or frustrated mates and friends. And lurking just behind these highly emotional stories lies the great scientific story (in which Margulis was herself a central participant) of how science reluctantly came to understand that our planet's atmosphere is a biological phenomenon."--Ernest Callenbach, author of Ecotopia

"On transatlantic overnight flights, I often hope the book I've chosen will quickly put me to sleep. Not so with Luminous Fish, which pleasantly kept me awake much of the night. Lynn Margulis has penned a delightful collection of essays of real scientists going about their all-too ordinary lives at work and play. Seldom has the subjective side of science been captured better, nor surprisingly so as Lynn herself very much lives the life of some of those profiled within. A penetrating, realistic work of science and passion if there ever was one."--Eric Chaisson, Wright Center for Science Education, Tufts University

"In the public eye, talented scientists are usually seen to be single-minded individuals who obsessively dedicate their entire lives to the dispassionate elucidation of arcane and complex issues. The emotional distractions which afflict the lives of ordinary beings seem lacking. Lynn Margulis' book exposes the reality of the passions, sexual and other desires which underlie and drive the lives of men and women scientists. This is done through four delightful, linked pieces of fiction spiced with a concluding personal memoir of some very real people. This enjoyable, original and unique book also reflects its unusual title. Luminous fish give flashes of illumination on to their prey by alternately exposing and hiding their radiant tissue (which is packed with symbiotic, luminescent bacteria). In a similar fashion, Lynn Margulis gives brilliant glimpses of the public and private lives of her characters, and their emotional interactions with each other. An excellent, fascinating and very readable portrayal of men and women scientists as the normal human beings they really are!"--Sir David Smith, Fellow and former Biological Secretary, Royal Society of London

"Science is often viewed as the cold, objective study of nature. Lynn Margulis shows us that this pursuit is often strongly and wonderfully influenced by the human touch. Luminous Fish is a fascinating read."--Margaret McFall-Ngai, Professor of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Wisconsin

"[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 University

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lynn Margulis

Lynn Margulis (1938-2011) who served as a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, received the 1999 National Medal of Science from President Bill Clinton. She was a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences starting in 1983 and of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences from 1997 forward. Author, editor, or coauthor of chapters in more than forty books, she published or had her work 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 made numerous contributions to the primary scientific literature of microbial evolution and cell biology.

Margulis's theory of species evolution by symbiogenesis, put forth in Acquiring Genomes (co-authored with Dorion Sagan, 2002), describes how speciation does not occur by random mutation alone but rather by symbiotic détente. Behavioral, chemical, and other interactions often lead to integration among organisms, members of different taxa. In well-documented cases some mergers create new species. Intimacy, physical contact of strangers, becomes part of the engine of life's evolution that accelerates the process of change. Margulis worked 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 worked on the "revolution in evolution" since she was a graduate student. In the last fifteen years of her life, Margulis co-authored 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 provided 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 Archean and Proterozoic Eons (second edition, 1993). The bacterial origins of both chloroplasts and mitochondria are now well established.

Since the mid-1970s, Margulis 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 of outer space the Earth looks like an amazing being; from the vantage of biochemistry it behaves in many ways like a giant organism.

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Nearly forty of the world's most esteemed scientists discuss the big questions that drive their illustrious careers. Co-editor Eduardo Punset—one of Spain's most loved personages for his popularization of the sciences—interviews an impressive collection of characters drawing out the seldom seen personalities of the world's most important men and woman of science. In Mind, Life and Universe they describe in their own words the most important and fascinating aspects of their research. Frank and often irreverent, these interviews will keep even the most casual reader of science books rapt for hours.

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The essay "Metametazoa" presents perspectives on biology in a philosophical context, demonstrating how the intellectual librarian, pornographer, and political agitator Georges Bataille was influenced by Russian mineralogist Vladimir Vernadsky and how this led to his notion of the absence of meaning in the face of the sun--which later influenced Jacques Derrida, thereby establishing a causal chain of influence from the hard sciences to topics as abstract as deconstruction and post-modernism.

In "Spirochetes Awake" the bizarre connection between syphilis and genius in the life of Friedrich Nietzsche is traced. The astonishing similarities of the Acquired-Immune-Deficiency-Syndrome symptoms with those of chronic spirochete infection, it is argued, contrast sharply with the lack of evidence that "HIV is the cause of AIDS". Throughout these readings we are dazzled by the intimacy and necessity of relationships between us and our other planetmates. In our ignorance as "civilized" people we dismiss, disdain, and deny our kinship with the only productive life forms that sustain this living planet.

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Metamorphosis has intrigued human observers for thousands of years. While everyone knows this trick of nature transforms caterpillars into butterflies, fewer are aware that this process of transformation also occurs in many other insect species, as well as in amphibians and-in its greatest diversity-in marine creatures. Still, despite its widespread occurrence, metamorphosis has largely remained a mystery-not just to the people who watch gorgeous orange Monarchs emerge from green caterpillars once ensconced in cocoons, but also to the scientists who have tried to unravel just how the transformation works. In Metamorphosis, Frank Ryan delves into the mystery headfirst, showcasing surprising new ideas that are shaking established science.

Ryan recounts how the intricate physiology of metamorphosis has slowly revealed its secrets. He brings the work of pioneering scientists-such as Jean-Henri Fabre, Vincent Wigglesworth, and Carroll Williams-to life as they explore the inner workings of the insect world. We also meet contemporary scientist Don Williamson, whose work on sea urchins and other ocean-going animals led him to a theory of larval development that challenge some of the longest-held beliefs in evolution-including those that date back to Darwin's time. Williamson, whose revelations have launched huge debates in science, has risked being labeled an iconoclast for encouraging people to think differently about how species evolve-a process, he says, that is not as linear as we've believed, and that involves not just mutation but also hybridizaton.

A character as enchanting as metamorphosis itself, Williams exemplifies the importance of questioning time-honored beliefs. Through his work and those of the other monumental scientists in this book, we come closer to understanding the ancient and miraculous transformation of juvenile life forms into beautiful and complex adult insects and animals.

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