Right Hand, Left Hand: The Origins of Asymmetry in Brains, Bodies, Atoms and Cultures

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Harvard University Press, 2004 - Science - 412 pages
8 Reviews

A labor of love and enthusiasm as well as deep scientific knowledge, Right Hand, Left Hand takes the reader on a trip through history, around the world, and into the cosmos, to explore the place of handedness in nature and culture. Chris McManus considers evidence from anthropology, particle physics, the history of medicine, and the notebooks of Leonardo to answer questions like: Why are most people right-handed? Are left-handed people cognitively different from right-handers? Why is the heart almost always on the left side of the body? Why does European writing go from left to right, while Arabic and Hebrew go from right to left? Why do tornadoes spin counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere? And how do we know that Jack the Ripper was left-handed?

McManus reminds readers that distinctions between right and left have been profoundly meaningful--imbued with moral and religious meaning--in societies throughout history, and suggests that our preoccupation with laterality may originate in our asymmetric bodies, which emerged from 550 million years of asymmetric vertebrate evolution, and may even be linked to the asymmetric structure of matter. With speculations embedded in science, Right Hand, Left Hand offers entertainment and new insight to scientists and general readers alike.

  

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Review: Right Hand, Left Hand: The Origins of Asymmetry in Brains, Bodies, Atoms and Cultures

User Review  - Psychophant - Goodreads

This is a very difficult book to define, alternating between trivia and deep science, but always with a clear objective, to elucidate why we are asymmetrical, and just how asymmetrical we are. It is ... Read full review

Review: Right Hand, Left Hand: The Origins of Asymmetry in Brains, Bodies, Atoms and Cultures

User Review  - Chris Carvell - Goodreads

Hugely entertaining: I did not realize how much that symmetry and asymmetry affects everything from the tiniest entities to galactic structures: a really thought-provoking read. Read full review

Contents

Dr Watsons problem
1
Death and the right hand
16
On the left bank
41
Kleiz drept luft zeso lijevi prawy
60
The heart of the dragon
82
The toad ugly and venomous
121
The dextrous and the gauche
146
The left brain the right brain and the whole brain
168
Keggiehander
265
Vulgar errors
285
The handedness of Muppets
313
Man is all symmetrie
336
The world the small the great
354
Notes
363
Picture and Text Credits
394
Index
399

Ehud son of Gera
202
Three men went to mow
233

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About the author (2004)

Chris McManus is Professor of Psychology and Medical Education at University College London, and co-editor of the Cambridge Handbook of Psychology, Health, and Medicine and the journal Laterality.

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