Cells to Civilizations by Enrico Coen
The Principles of Change That Shape Life

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Most of the chapters open gently with examples of key moments in the history of art, then switch to a more textbook-style delivery of the hard science. This unfamiliar mixture of art, genetics, embryology and neuroscience makes for a bumpy ride, but it's worth clinging on...
-Guardian

Synopsis

Cells to Civilizations is the first unified account of how life transforms itself--from the production of bacteria to the emergence of complex civilizations. What are the connections between evolving microbes, an egg that develops into an infant, and a child who learns to walk and talk? Award-winning scientist Enrico Coen synthesizes the growth of living systems and creative processes, and he reveals that the four great life transformations--evolution, development, learning, and human culture--while typically understood separately, actually all revolve around shared core principles and manifest the same fundamental recipe. Coen blends provocative discussion, the latest scientific research, and colorful examples to demonstrate the links between these critical stages in the history of life.

Coen tells a story rich with genes, embryos, neurons, and fascinating discoveries. He examines the development of the zebra, the adaptations of seaweed, the cave paintings of Lascaux, and the formulations of Alan Turing. He explores how dogs make predictions, how weeds tell the time of day, and how our brains distinguish a Modigliani from a Rembrandt. Locating commonalities in important findings, Coen gives readers a deeper understanding of key transformations and provides a bold portrait for how science both frames and is framed by human culture.

A compelling investigation into the relationships between our biological past and cultural progress, Cells to Civilizations presents a remarkable story of living change.

 

About Enrico Coen

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Enrico Coen is a plant molecular geneticist based at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, United Kingdom. He is the author of "The Art of Genes", a fellow of the Royal Society, and a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. His awards include the Linnean Gold Medal and the Royal Society Darwin Medal.
 
Published May 27, 2012 by Princeton University Press. 341 pages
Genres: Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
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Reviewed by James Kingsland on Nov 19 2013

Most of the chapters open gently with examples of key moments in the history of art, then switch to a more textbook-style delivery of the hard science. This unfamiliar mixture of art, genetics, embryology and neuroscience makes for a bumpy ride, but it's worth clinging on...

Read Full Review of Cells to Civilizations: The P... | See more reviews from Guardian

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