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Arrival Of The Fittest

Author: Andreas Wagner
Publisher: Current
ISBN: 1617230219
Size: 62.49 MB
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"Wagner draws on over fifteen years of research to present the missing piece in Darwin's theory. Using experimental and computational technologies that were heretofore unimagined, he has found that adaptations are not just driven by chance, but by a set of laws that allow nature to discover new molecules and mechanisms in a fraction of the time that random variation would take"--Amazon.com.

The Arrival Of The Fittest

Author: Andreas Wagner
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
ISBN: 1780745176
Size: 42.79 MB
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We all know about natural selection and the so-called survival of the fittest, which governs how evolution preserves useful adaptations in each subsequent generation of a species. Unfortunately, random change alone could not have produced life as we know it – the maths don't add up, according to cutting-edge research by Andreas Wagner in the revolutionary field of computational biology. In the last decade, Wagner has detected the biological networks guiding the creation of innovation. His investigations of the genes of everything from bacteria to humans is rewriting our understanding of how exactly evolution works and providing insights into the origins of creativity, with lessons that can be applied far beyond genomes. In The Arrival of the Fittest, Wagner delivers a breathtaking new look at our origins, from the genes up.

Arrival Of The Fittest

Author: Andreas Wagner
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 1101628162
Size: 55.93 MB
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“Natural selection can preserve innovations, but it cannot create them. Nature’s many innovations—some uncannily perfect—call for natural principles that accelerate life’s ability to innovate.” Darwin’s theory of natural selection explains how useful adaptations are preserved over time. But the biggest mystery about evolution eluded him. As genetics pioneer Hugo de Vries put it, “natural selection may explain the survival of the fittest, but it cannot explain the arrival of the fittest.” Can random mutations over a mere 3.8 billion years really be responsible for wings, eyeballs, knees, camouflage, lactose digestion, photosynthesis, and the rest of nature’s creative marvels? And if the answer is no, what is the mechanism that explains evolution’s speed and efficiency? In Arrival of the Fittest, renowned evolutionary biologist Andreas Wagner draws on over fifteen years of research to present the missing piece in Darwin's theory. Using experimental and computational technologies that were heretofore unimagined, he has found that adaptations are not just driven by chance, but by a set of laws that allow nature to discover new molecules and mechanisms in a fraction of the time that random variation would take. Consider the Arctic cod, a fish that lives and thrives within six degrees of the North Pole, in waters that regularly fall below 0 degrees. At that temperature, the internal fluids of most organisms turn into ice crystals. And yet, the arctic cod survives by producing proteins that lower the freezing temperature of its body fluids, much like antifreeze does for a car’s engine coolant. The invention of those proteins is an archetypal example of nature’s enormous powers of creativity. Meticulously researched, carefully argued, evocatively written, and full of fascinating examples from the animal kingdom, Arrival of the Fittest offers up the final puzzle piece in the mystery of life’s rich diversity.

The Origins Of Evolutionary Innovations

Author: Andreas Wagner
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 0191621285
Size: 72.56 MB
Format: PDF, Kindle
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The history of life is a nearly four billion year old story of transformative change. This change ranges from dramatic macroscopic innovations such as the evolution of wings or eyes, to a myriad of molecular changes that form the basis of macroscopic innovations. We are familiar with many examples of innovations (qualitatively new phenotypes that provide a critical benefit) but have no systematic understanding of the principles that allow organisms to innovate. This book proposes several such principles as the basis of a theory of innovation, integrating recent knowledge about complex molecular phenotypes with more traditional Darwinian thinking. Central to the book are genotype networks: vast sets of connected genotypes that exist in metabolism and regulatory circuitry, as well as in protein and RNA molecules. The theory can successfully unify innovations that occur at different levels of organization. It captures known features of biological innovation, including the fact that many innovations occur multiple times independently, and that they combine existing parts of a system to new purposes. It also argues that environmental change is important to create biological systems that are both complex and robust, and shows how such robustness can facilitate innovation. Beyond that, the theory can reconcile neutralism and selectionism, as well as explain the role of phenotypic plasticity, gene duplication, recombination, and cryptic variation in innovation. Finally, its principles can be applied to technological innovation, and thus open to human engineering endeavours the powerful principles that have allowed life's spectacular success.

Robustness And Evolvability In Living Systems

Author: Andreas Wagner
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 1400849381
Size: 30.95 MB
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All living things are remarkably complex, yet their DNA is unstable, undergoing countless random mutations over generations. Despite this instability, most animals do not grow two heads or die, plants continue to thrive, and bacteria continue to divide. Robustness and Evolvability in Living Systems tackles this perplexing paradox. The book explores why genetic changes do not cause organisms to fail catastrophically and how evolution shapes organisms' robustness. Andreas Wagner looks at this problem from the ground up, starting with the alphabet of DNA, the genetic code, RNA, and protein molecules, moving on to genetic networks and embryonic development, and working his way up to whole organisms. He then develops an evolutionary explanation for robustness. Wagner shows how evolution by natural selection preferentially finds and favors robust solutions to the problems organisms face in surviving and reproducing. Such robustness, he argues, also enhances the potential for future evolutionary innovation. Wagner also argues that robustness has less to do with organisms having plenty of spare parts (the redundancy theory that has been popular) and more to do with the reality that mutations can change organisms in ways that do not substantively affect their fitness. Unparalleled in its field, this book offers the most detailed analysis available of all facets of robustness within organisms. It will appeal not only to biologists but also to engineers interested in the design of robust systems and to social scientists concerned with robustness in human communities and populations.

Paradoxical Life

Author: Andreas Wagner
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 0300156375
Size: 26.12 MB
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What can a fingernail tell us about the mysteries of creation? In one sense, a nail is merely a hunk of mute matter, yet in another, it's an information superhighway quite literally at our fingertips. Every moment, streams of molecular signals direct our cells to move, flatten, swell, shrink, divide, or die. Andreas Wagner's ambitious new book explores this hidden web of unimaginably complex interactions in every living being. In the process, he unveils a host of paradoxes underpinning our understanding of modern biology, contradictions he considers gatekeepers at the frontiers of knowledge. Though we tend to think of concepts in such mutually exclusive pairs as mind-matter, self-other, and nature-nurture, Wagner argues that these opposing ideas are not actually separate. Indeed, they are as inextricably connected as the two sides of a coin. Through a tour of modern biological marvels, Wagner illustrates how this paradoxical tension has a profound effect on the way we define the world around us. Paradoxical Life is thus not only a unique account of modern biology. It ultimately serves a radical--and optimistic--outlook for humans and the world we help create.

The Snowflake

Author: Kenneth Libbrecht
Publisher: Voyageur Press (MN)
ISBN: 0760348472
Size: 19.87 MB
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Snowflakes may be an everyday, common subject, but you've never seen them like this! A collection of amazing photography of snow crystals using a unique system designed to take super-detailed micro images of these miniature ice masterpieces, The Snowflake is an extraordinary look at a seemingly ordinary object. The author, head of the physics department at Caltech and the pre-eminent snow-crystal researcher, discusses the physics and mythology of snow and how snow crystals are made.

Your Atomic Self

Author: Curt Stager
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 1250018854
Size: 11.76 MB
Format: PDF
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What do atoms have to do with your life? In Your Atomic Self, scientist Curt Stager reveals how they connect you to some of the most amazing things in the universe. You will follow your oxygen atoms through fire and water and from forests to your fingernails. Hydrogen atoms will wriggle into your hair and betray where you live and what you have been drinking. The carbon in your breath will become tree trunks, and the sodium in your tears will link you to long-dead oceans. The nitrogen in your muscles will help to turn the sky blue, the phosphorus in your bones will help to turn the coastal waters of North Carolina green, the calcium in your teeth will crush your food between atoms that were mined by mushrooms, and the iron in your blood will kill microbes as it once killed a star. You will also discover that much of what death must inevitably do to your body is already happening among many of your atoms at this very moment and that, nonetheless, you and everyone else you know will always exist somewhere in the fabric of the universe. You are not only made of atoms; you are atoms, and this book, in essence, is an atomic field guide to yourself.

Life S Greatest Secret

Author: Matthew Cobb
Publisher: Basic Books
ISBN: 0465062660
Size: 46.76 MB
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Everyone has heard of the story of DNA as the story of Watson and Crick and Rosalind Franklin, but knowing the structure of DNA was only a part of a greater struggle to understand life’s secrets. Life’s Greatest Secret is the story of the discovery and cracking of the genetic code, the thing that ultimately enables a spiraling molecule to give rise to the life that exists all around us. This great scientific breakthrough has had farreaching consequences for how we understand ourselves and our place in the natural world, and for how we might take control of our (and life’s) future. Life’s Greatest Secret mixes remarkable insights, theoretical dead-ends, and ingenious experiments with the swift pace of a thriller. From New York to Paris, Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Cambridge, England, and London to Moscow, the greatest discovery of twentieth-century biology was truly a global feat. Biologist and historian of science Matthew Cobb gives the full and rich account of the cooperation and competition between the eccentric characters—mathematicians, physicists, information theorists, and biologists—who contributed to this revolutionary new science. And, while every new discovery was a leap forward for science, Cobb shows how every new answer inevitably led to new questions that were at least as difficult to answer: just ask anyone who had hoped that the successful completion of the Human Genome Project was going to truly yield the book of life, or that a better understanding of epigenetics or “junk DNA” was going to be the final piece of the puzzle. But the setbacks and unexpected discoveries are what make the science exciting, and it is Matthew Cobb’s telling that makes them worth reading. This is a riveting story of humans exploring what it is that makes us human and how the world works, and it is essential reading for anyone who’d like to explore those questions for themselves.

The Book Of Life

Author: Stephen Jay Gould
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 9780393321562
Size: 40.20 MB
Format: PDF
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An illustrated natural history of the Earth and its denizens combines paintings, drawings, and computer-generated images with a chronicle of the world's variegated organisms and species.