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River out of eden : a Darwinian view of life

Author: Richard Dawkins
Publisher: New York, NY : Basic Books, ©1995.
Series: Science masters series.
Edition/Format:   Book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
How did the replication bomb we call "life" begin and where in the world, or rather, in the universe, is it heading? Writing with characteristic wit and an ability to clarify complex phenomena (the New York Times described his style as "the sort of science writing that makes the reader feel like a genius"), Richard Dawkins confronts this ancient mystery. Dawkins has been named by the London Daily Telegraph "the most  Read more...
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Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Dawkins, Richard, 1941-
River out of eden.
New York, NY : Basic Books, ©1995
(OCoLC)622984935
Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Richard Dawkins
ISBN: 0465016065 9780465016068 0465069908 9780465069903
OCLC Number: 31376584
Description: xiii, 172 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Contents: The digital river --
All Africa and her progenies --
Do good by stealth --
God's utility function --
The replication bomb.
Series Title: Science masters series.
Responsibility: Richard Dawkins ; illustrations by Lalla Ward.

Abstract:

How did the replication bomb we call "life" begin and where in the world, or rather, in the universe, is it heading? Writing with characteristic wit and an ability to clarify complex phenomena (the New York Times described his style as "the sort of science writing that makes the reader feel like a genius"), Richard Dawkins confronts this ancient mystery. Dawkins has been named by the London Daily Telegraph "the most brilliant contemporary preacher of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution." More than any other contemporary scientist, he has lent credence to the idea that human beings - indeed, all living things - are mere vehicles of information, gene carriers whose primary purpose is propagation of their own DNA. In this new book, Dawkins explains evolution as a flowing river of genes, genes meeting, competing, uniting, and sometimes separating to form new species. Filled with absorbing, at times alarming, stories about the world of bees and orchids, "designed" eyes and human ancestors, River Out of Eden answers tantalizing questions: Why are forest trees tall - wouldn't each survive more economically if all were short? Why is the sex ratio fifty-fifty when relatively few males are needed to impregnate many females? Why do we inherit genes for fatal illnesses? Who was our last universal ancestor? Dawkins suggests that it was more likely to have been an Adam than an African Eve. By "reverse engineering," he deduces the purpose of life ("God's Utility Function"). Hammering home the crucial role of gradualism in evolution, he confounds those who argue that every element of, say, an eye has to function perfectly or the whole system will collapse. But the engaging, personal, frequently provocative narrative that carries us along River Out of Eden has a larger purpose: the book illustrates the nature of scientific reasoning, exposing the difficulties scientists face in explaining life. We learn that our assumptions, intuitions, origin myths, and trendy intellectual and cultural "isms" all too often lead us astray.

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