Relics of Eden

Relics of Eden, by Daniel J. Fairbanks, PhD.

Fairbanks writes about the abundance of evidence for evolution to the lay audience. The twist, is this time the evidence is from genomes, which, unknown in Darwin’s time, have been sequenced recently (please see “Language of Life”).

Early in the book, Fairbanks tells us that he holds “deep religious convictions” (pg 15), and if google is to be trusted, Fairbanks was educated and taught at a certain religious school in Utah. Fairbanks sees no incompatibility with being a biologist who believes in Darwinian evolution and a religious person. A later chapter in the book is about there is no need for religion and evolution to be at odds. He gives examples of religious men, Sir Ronald Fisher, Theodosius Dobzhansky & Francis Collins that were preeminent evolutionary thinkers.

Chapter two was about my favorite scientist, Barbara McClintock, who asked an utterly useless question, “why don’t spots on corn kernels follow expected patterns?” Who cares? Who would fund that research? You can see a politician mocking the project, calling it more waste of government money.

Appendix 3, is a fun and fast history of genetics from Darwin to the Human Genome project.

The bad – a typo “Charcot-Marie tooth disease” (pg 42) should have “Tooth” capitalized, because Howard Henry Tooth was the third researcher that first described this neurological disorder.
Nicolia Vavilov – found “greatest genetic diversity for a species, is in the place where it originated” (pg 104). This is important, because little diversity (read, the food we eat) can be a dangerous thing in the face disease. (Luckily, we have giant agri-business manipulating the genomes of our food.)

Questions I have that were not clear…
If DNA is read from 5prime to 3prime direction, one strand of the DNA, what happens to the other strand, is it ignored? Or when DNA is read, are two different proteins made at the same time?

Interesting stuff to explore more:
GULO gene which makes vitamin C
the Vavilov Institute

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