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Scientists have long recognized the value of developing methods to induce modifications in DNA sequences. Although the wave of recent breakthroughs concerning gene editing has propelled the field to the forefront of science, the concept itself is not new. This chapter explains how genome editing became a reality and argues that the concept of genetic manipulation is rooted in popular culture. The chapter begins by introducing readers to Gregor Mendel’s groundbreaking pea-plant experiments in the mid-1800s, which gave rise to modern genetics. The chapter then provides a concise overview of the origins of the concept of genetic manipulation, and how the discovery of two critical elements—restriction enzymes and DNA-repair mechanisms—in the second half of the twentieth century marked the genesis of modern molecular biology and biotechnology. Importantly, this chapter acquaints readers with fundamental concepts in molecular biology and genetics—including gene expression, DNA replication, RNA transcription, protein translation, DNA repair, the structure of DNA, the rise of genetic mutations, the flow of genetic information through the central dogma of molecular biology, and more—and explains important scientific terminology in a clear and accessible format with the aid of illustrations.
From the intergalactic dance of dark energy and gravity, to the push and pull of our sun’s protonic plasma, to the ebb and flow of Earth’s winds and waves, a series of delicate balances supports life on our “Goldilocks Planet.” A nice balance of gravity's pull and dark energy's push resulted in a rich quilt of galaxies and stars, with us ending up in a comfortable Green galaxy, in a prime-mid spiral section of the Milky Way galaxy, rotating around a nice sun (not too close, not too far) gently emitting in the yellow part of the energy spectrum. A healthy quantity of atmosphere and greenhouse gasses, along with the Van Allen belts, keeps out most high-energy particles and maintains a reasonable temperature. The Hadley and Walker Circulations pitch in, creating clockwise rotating circulation cells in and over the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, transporting heat away from the equator and depositing it in poleward latitudes. These circulations bring life-giving moisture to the continents, supporting abundant life. Note, however, that the manual for Spaceship Earth does not contain a warranty. Right there on the cover, next to the red “Don't Panic” logo, is emblazoned “No Returns If Opened.”
Here, framed in the context of a humorous story, we learn about the electromagnetic spectrum, entropy, negentropy, and available potential energy. We learn to see stars as tremendous gravity-driven concentrations of matter and energy, uniquely capable of supporting increased complexity and life on our planet. Seen from this perspective, the vast empty reaches of space allow for the formation of stars, which in turn support life. Energetically closed systems are doomed to entropic heat death, as mixing drives the system inexorably toward a boring end. But energetically open systems, like the Earth, absorb solar radiation and turn it into growing complexity on a planet hovering in a “magic” and narrow temperature range. This “negentropic” system can evolve over time. This increasing complexity arises because this incoming energy supports temperature gradients that drive weather and climate systems. Climate change adds more energy, and this extra energy can create more intense gradients, and more intense weather and climate events. Understanding this simple fact improves our ability to recognize and predict the dangerous impacts occurring now. At large scales, exceptionally warm tropical waters drive drought-inducing semi-global rainfall disruptions. At regional scales, warmer Ocean and atmosphere conditions can lead to more intense storms and hurricanes. As more energy moves through our Earth system, we are experiencing more extreme weather and climate.
Aristotle’s biology and contemporary evolutionary biology appear to be fundamentally at odds. Any comparative biology seeks to explain the fit and diversity of organismal form, but Aristotelian and contemporary biology do so in very different, evidently incompatible, ways. In this chapter, I argue for a reconciliation between the two biologies. Recent advances in evolutionary thinking suggest that the form of population thinking pursued by twentieth-century evolutionary biology must be augmented by an understanding of the ways in which organisms as adaptive, purposive entities contribute to adaptive evolution. Moreover, the phenomenon of adaptation cannot adequately be understood unless we take into account the ways in which an organism’s “way of life” structures its experience of its conditions of existence. The active role that organisms play in evolution is nicely captured in Aristotle’s concept of bios – way of life.
Science, for James Croll, began and ended in metaphysics. Metaphysics, in turn, provided proof of a First and Final Cause of all things. This proof rested on two metaphysical principles: that every event must have a cause, and that the determination of a cause is distinct from its production. This argument emerged from his deeply held religious commitments. As a 17-year-old, he converted to a Calvinist and evangelical form of Christianity. After a period of questioning the Calvinist system, he embraced it again through reading the famous treatise on the will by the New England theologian, Jonathan Edwards. This determinedly metaphysical work, which engaged as much with Enlightenment thought as with Calvinism, defended the view that the will was not a self-determining cause of human action. This ‘hard case’ provided the basis for a larger claim that every act whatever has a cause, and that the production of an act was different from its determination. In part through reading Edwards, Croll remained a devout and convinced ‘moderate’ Calvinist for the rest of his life. He also developed a deep love of metaphysics and became convinced that without it, everything, including science, remained confused and in darkness. For Croll, even the most basic science could not be properly conducted without prior metaphysical principles. But this was more than just an argument about the philosophical foundations of scientific inquiry. It was also based on Croll's conviction that the cosmos, earth history and life (including his own) was fully determined by a supreme and perfect intellect. This conviction entered into the marrow of Croll's scientific theories and shaped his interpretation of the twists and turns of his own life. In short, to take seriously Croll's own self-understanding, we need to allow him to ‘do God’.
Plate tectonics drives variation in sea-level, over intervals of approximately107–108 years. These variations may have significant effects on the pace of (biological) evolution through the elimination of terrestrial niches and the expansion of shallow-water marine niches. However, within the solar system, only the Earth experiences this kind of tectonism. Venus displays regional tectonism, characterized by rising diapirs within the plastic mantle. Impinging on the lithosphere, these plumes produce a range of structures of varying dimensions; the uplift of which would raise sea-level, were Venus to have oceans. Using Magellan observations of Venus, we model the impact of regional tectonism on sea-level for given areas of Venusian ocean, then compare the effect with terrestrial tectonic processes for similar oceanic area. We show that despite variation in the geographical extent of Venusian-style tectonic processes, the styles of regional tectonism on Venus can produce the same order of magnitude changes in sea-level, for a given area of ocean, as plate tectonics. Consequently, we examine some of the impacts of marine transgression on habitability and the evolution of life.
Ibsen engaged with many of the dominant scientific ideas of his time, especially those in the natural sciences, such as evolution and heredity. This chapter explores such scientific contexts and shows how and why Ibsen oscillated between respecting science, medicine and technology’s role in humanity’s progress and disparaging their destructive capabilities. The discussion also points out how science underpins some of Ibsen’s revolutionary innovations in theatrical form and content: his explorations of Zola’s naturalism, his dramatization of Darwin’s ideas, his foregrounding of the family unit as the subject of drama, his depiction of the constant tension between the twin forces of heredity and environment, and his radical scenographic vision of nature and landscape.
In modern creationism, blood-language (even more than a high view of scripture) determines whether evolution can be true. In One Blood, leading creationist Ken Ham finds evolution too bloody for a good God. A good God could hardly use predation, extinction, and death as a means. For Ham, blood sets humans at one with or apart from the “dumb beasts.” But Ham drafts too narrow an atonement, where the blood of Christ makes up only for sin. Blood must also mean solidarity. Uses Irenaeus, William Jennings Bryan, Marilyn Adams, Teilhard de Chardin, Sergei Bulgakov.
Maximus the Confessor's theory of the logoi in the Logos applied to human evolution. God's use of material things – such as stones – to bring about the incarnation. Maximus's pregnant mentions of the blood of Christ as the intelligibility of things.
This chapter explores Ernst Mach’s philosophy of scientific knowledge as an original form of pragmatism. Mach recognised science as a deeply historical phenomenon and scientific knowledge as path-dependent, thoroughly fallible, and far from ever closed. Conceptual perplexities, he held, can only be resolved by historical-comparative investigations. What merits thinking of Mach as a pragmatist, I will argue, is his insistence, as a philosopher, on the ultimately practical orientation of all thought as a matter both of fact and norm, and, as a historian of science, on the need to investigate the specific problem situations out of and in response to which concepts and theories developed. Last but not least, the practical orientation of his philosophy found expression in his allegiance to the ideal of enlightenment.
The abnormal animal that introduces this chapter is a fly with no bristles. It turns out that flies "know" where to make bristles based on a GPS system of area codes in their genome. Humans probably have one too, but no one has located it yet. The chapter discusses the evolution of nakedness in humans and the genetics of why.
The unique environment of space is characterized by several stress factors, including intense radiation, microgravity, high vacuum and extreme temperatures, among others. These stress conditions individually or in-combination influence genetics and gene regulation and bring potential evolutionary changes in organisms that would not occur under the Earth's gravity regime (1 × g). Thus, space can be explored to support the emergence of new varieties of microbes and plants, that when selected for, can exhibit increased growth and yield, improved resistance to pathogens, enhanced tolerance to drought, low nutrient and disease, produce new metabolites and others. These properties may be more difficult to achieve using other approaches under 1 × g. This review provides an overview of the space microgravity and ionizing radiation conditions that significantly influence organisms. Changes in the genomics, physiology, phenotype, growth and metabolites of organisms in real and simulated microgravity and radiation conditions are illustrated. Results of space biological experiments show that the space environment has significant scientific, technological and commercial potential. Combined these potentials can help address the future of life on Earth, part of goal e of astrobiology.
Progress Unchained reinterprets the history of the idea of progress using parallels between evolutionary biology and changing views of human history. Early concepts of progress in both areas saw it as the ascent of a linear scale of development toward a final goal. The 'chain of being' defined a hierarchy of living things with humans at the head, while social thinkers interpreted history as a development toward a final paradise or utopia. Darwinism reconfigured biological progress as a 'tree of life' with multiple lines of advance not necessarily leading to humans, each driven by the rare innovations that generate entirely new functions. Popular writers such as H. G. Wells used a similar model to depict human progress, with competing technological innovations producing ever-more rapid changes in society. Bowler shows that as the idea of progress has become open-ended and unpredictable, a variety of alternative futures have been imagined.
Adaptive Intelligence is a dramatic reappraisal and reframing of the concept of human intelligence. In a sweeping analysis, Robert J. Sternberg argues that we are using a fatally-flawed, outdated conception of intelligence; one which may promote technological advancement, but which has also accelerated climate change, pollution, the use of weaponry, and inequality. Instead of focusing on the narrow academic skills measured by standardized tests, societies should teach and assess adaptive intelligence, defined as the use of collective talent in service of the common good. This book describes why the outdated notion of intelligence persists, what adaptive intelligence is, and how it could lead humankind on a more positive path.
What remains in life’s wake? Postapocalyptic literature long has imagined the end as a kind of beginning; someone or something always survives Armageddon, if only for a time. This is the postapocalyptic condition of possibility, enabling the genre’s cathected tropes of loss and redemption, regression and advance. Even when the survivors are not recognizably human—are androids, aliens, or nonhuman animals—“life” goes on. Engaging with a range of American fiction and nonfiction (from Ray Bradbury to Octavia Butler to Ray Kurzweil), this essay argues that what unites the posthuman and the postapocalyptic is, first, a shared, vitalistic investment in what might be called “life after death” and, second, a refusal or inability to narrate a final, lasting extinction. In H. P. Lovecraft’s radical take on Darwinian evolution, however, we can see the prospect of a posthuman sublime that never reconstitutes the autonomous subject. The chapter concludes with a brief meditation on the implications—metaphysical, biopolitical, and critical—of this self-alienation.
Rather than promoting a death wish for the digital humanities, this chapter questions what comes after the labor of a single, reluctant digital humanist -- one who is coming to terms with his own privilege as a white, Western, male academic. In a seven-part requiem, I reckon with the scholarly methods I have championed over the span of a career and recommend a conceptual turn that encourages digital humanists to build things off-screen. To supplant the Promethean conception of “building” as the apotheosis of a tool-making animal, I put forth both a theory and method of “inclination,” based on the work of Adriana Cavarero. A motto such as “Real Humanists Make Tools” expresses the bravado of Homo Erectus, but I want to speculate about a new proto-human(ist) figure: Homo Inclinus. This figure follows its inclinations, embraces its finitude, pays attention haptically, and bends toward the other in acts that can be at once empathetic, generous, playful, erotic, and philosophical.
In this Element the origins of corporate governance are reviewed, recognising that corporate entities have always been governed, that important developments took place in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the huge significance of the invention of the joint-stock limited liability company. The development of corporate governance in the twentieth century around the world is explored, with complex groups, private companies, and top management dominating shareholder power appearing in the Inter-war years. Some unresolved issues in both principle and practice are identified. Various theories of corporate governance are described and contrasted. The subject is seen to be in search of its paradigm and a systems theoretical relationship between the theories is suggested. The need to rethink the concept of the limited liability company is argued, and a call is made for the development of a philosophy of corporate governance.
In a lecture that Habermas gave on his 90th birthday he ironically, but with serious intent, called a good Kant a sufficiently Marxist educated Kant. This dialectical Kant is the only one of the many Kants who maintains the idea of an unconditioned moral autonomy but completely within evolution, history and in the middle of societal class and other struggles. The article tries to show what Kant could have learned from his later critics to enable him to become a member of the Frankfurt School’s neo-Marxist theory of society.
The history and philosophy of human growth and development in the field of anthropology are studied. Examples of the Maya people of Guatemala and Mexico are given to place human growth in its biocultural framework.
This completely revised edition provides a synthesis of the forces that shaped the evolution of the human growth pattern, the biocultural factors that direct its expression, the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that regulate individual development, and the biomathematical approaches needed to analyze and interpret human growth. After covering the history, philosophy and biological principles of human development, the book turns to the evolution of the human life cycle. Later chapters explore the physiological, environmental and cultural reasons for population variation in growth, and the genetic and endocrine factors that regulate individual development. Using numerous historical and cultural examples, social-economic-political-economic forces are also discussed. A new chapter introduces controversial concepts of community effects and strategic growth adjustments, and the author then integrates all this information into a truly interactive biocultural model of human development. This remains the primary text for students of human growth in anthropology, psychology, public health and education.