Mind, Life and Universe: Conversations with Great Scientists of Our Time (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Lynn Margulis, Eduardo Punset
Chelsea Green Publishing, Aug 15, 2007 - Science - 304 pages
9 Reviews

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.

Can brain science explain feelings of happiness and despair? Is it true that chimpanzees are just like us when it comes to sexual innuendo? Is there any hard evidence that life exists anywhere other than on the Earth? Through Punset's skillful questioning, readers will meet one scientist who is passionate about the genetic control of everything and another who spends her every waking hour making sure African ecosystems stay intact. The men and women assembled here by Lynn Margulis and Eduardo Punset will provide a source of endless interest.

In captivating conversations with such science luminaries as Jane Goodall, James E. Lovelock, Oliver Sachs, and E. O. Wilson, Punset reveals a hidden world of intellectual interests, verve, and humor. Science enthusiasts and general readers alike will devour Mind, Life and Universe, breathless and enchanted by its truths.

  

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Paulagraph - LibraryThing

Mind, Life and Universe affords all the pleasures as well as the dissatisfactions of a short-format TV program(in fact, the 36 interviews with distinguished scientists presented here are excerpted ... Read full review

Review: Mind, Life, and Universe: Conversations with Great Scientists of Our Time

User Review  - Allison Arthur - Goodreads

This book is an opportunity to get inside the heads of leading scientists in a variety of fields. Eduardo Punset and Lynn Margulis simplify science through interviews and translate complicated ... Read full review

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About the author (2007)

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.

Eduardo Punset is Professor of Economic Policy at the Chemical Institute of Ramon Llull University in Barcelona. He was Chairman of the Bull Technological Institute, Professor of Innovation and Technology at Madrid University, and IMF Representative in the Caribbean. He actively participated in the Spanish political transition to democracy as Minister for Relations with the European Union, Regional Minister of Finance for Cataluny. and Member of the European Parliament. He is currently Director and Producer of Networks, a weekly programme of Spanish public television on Science. He has been a member of the staff of BBC, and The Economist. His books include A Field Guide to Survive in the XXI st Century, La Salida de la Crisis, Human Resources and Economic Growth, and La Espana Impertinente.

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