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Dreamers, Visionaries, and Revolutionaries in the Life Sciences

Edited by Oren Harman and Michael R. Dietrich

Dreamers, Visionaries, and Revolutionaries in the Life Sciences

Edited by Oren Harman and Michael R. Dietrich

336 pages | 20 halftones, 7 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2018 
Paper $40.00 ISBN: 9780226569901 Published July 2018
Cloth $120.00 ISBN: 9780226569871 Published July 2018
E-book $10.00 to $40.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226570075 Published July 2018
What are the conditions that foster true novelty and allow visionaries to set their eyes on unknown horizons? What have been the challenges that have spawned new innovations, and how have they shaped modern biology? In Dreamers, Visionaries, and Revolutionaries in the Life Sciences, editors Oren Harman and Michael R. Dietrich explore these questions through the lives of eighteen exemplary biologists who had grand and often radical ideas that went far beyond the run-of-the-mill science of their peers.
 
From the Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who coined the word “biology” in the early nineteenth century, to the American James Lovelock, for whom the Earth is a living, breathing organism, these dreamers innovated in ways that forced their contemporaries to reexamine comfortable truths. With this collection readers will follow Jane Goodall into the hidden world of apes in African jungles and Francis Crick as he attacks the problem of consciousness. Join Mary Lasker on her campaign to conquer cancer and follow geneticist George Church as he dreams of bringing back woolly mammoths and Neanderthals. In these lives and the many others featured in these pages, we discover visions that were sometimes fantastical, quixotic, and even threatening and destabilizing, but always a challenge to the status quo.
Contents

Introduction: Perchance to Dream—Fostering Novelty in the Life Sciences
Oren Harman and Michael R. Dietrich

I        The Evolutionists

1          Jean-Baptiste Lamarck: Biological Visionary
Richard W. Burkhardt Jr.

2          Ernst Haeckel: A Dream Transformed
Robert J. Richards

3          Peter Kropotkin: Anarchist, Revolutionary, Dreamer
Oren Harman

II       The Medicalists

4          Mary Lasker: Citizen Lobbyist for Medical Research
Kirsten E. Gardner

5          Jonas Salk: American Hero, Scientific Outcast
Charlotte DeCroes Jacobs

6          The Origins of “Dynamic Reciprocity”: Mina Bissell’s Expansive Picture of Cancer Causation
Anya Plutynski

III      The Molecularists

7          W. Ford Doolittle: Evolutionary Provocations and a Pluralistic Vision
Maureen A. O’Malley

8          Collecting Dreams in the Molecular Sciences: Margaret Dayhoff and The Atlas of Protein Sequence and Structure
Bruno J. Strasser

9          Neanderthals in Space: George Church’s Modest Steps toward Possible Futures
Luis Campos

IV      The Ecologists

10        From New Alchemy to Living Machines: John Todd’s Dreams of Ecological Engineering
Michael R. Dietrich and Laura L. Lovett

11        Stephen Hubbell and the Paramount Power of Randomness
Philippe Huneman

12        Rachel Carson: Prophet for the Environment
Janet Browne

V       The Ethologists

13        Jane Goodall: She Dreamed of Tarzan
Dale Peterson

14        Francis Crick and the Problem of Consciousness
Rick Grush

15        David Sloan Wilson: Visionary, Idealist, Ideologue
Mark E. Borrello

VI      The Systematizers

16        D’Arcy Thompson: Archetypical Visionary
Tim Horder

17        James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis: “A New Look at Life on Earth” . . . for the Life and the Earth Sciences
Sébastien Dutreuil

18        Big Dreams for Small Creatures: Ilana and Eugene Rosenberg’s Path to the Hologenome Theory
Ehud Lamm

Epilogue: The Scientist Dreamer
Joan Roughgarden

List of Contributors
Index

Review Quotes
Nature
"They may infuriate even as they inspire; destabilize, as well as advance. The visionaries of biology, note science historians Oren Harman and Michael Dietrich, are masters of 'dramatically bold, even fantastic' thinking about big problems. This compelling edited volume explores the work of 19 innovators, including Iranian-American cancer researcher Mina Bissell, who studies tumour microenvironments; Canadian John Todd, who engineered solar aquatic sewage treatment; and Peter Kropotkin, the Russian biologist who championed mutualism in nature during the Darwinian revolution."
Gregory Radick, University of Leeds
"Sciences stay lively only thanks to regular injections of big, bold thinking and doing. Dreamers, Visionaries, and Revolutionaries in the Life Sciences tells the stories of some of biology's greatest boundary–pushers, from Lamarck (who gave biology its name) to Lovelock and beyond.  Prepare to be instructed, inspired, amazed, and—occasionally—appalled."
Jane Maienschein, Arizona State University
"Dreamers, Visionaries, and Revolutionaries in the Life joins Rebels, Mavericks, and Heretics in Biology (Yale, 2008) and Outsider Scientists: Routes to Innovation in Biology (Chicago, 2013) in presenting looks at individual scientists who are non-standard in illuminating ways.  Harmon and Dietrich have enticed their contributors to think about the role of individual scientists and how they helped shape science in society. They then pull together the individual biographies with valuable cross-cutting interpretive introductions. Joan Roughgarden’s epilogue captures the book’s message beautifully. To those who feel they don’t quite fit:  “If you’re a scientist dreamer, let it happen; don’t fight it. Really, you have no choice. It’s what you are. In the end, you might be correct, after all. And remember, be a disciplined dreamer. The scientist dreamer must aim to tell a true story, not a fantasy.” To the rest of us: “If you’re not a scientific dreamer yourself, but know someone who is, be kind to them.”  We should be kind because the dreamers stimulate us all ro think and be better than we otherwise would. The brilliant Lynn Margulis might have infuriated almost everybody, as the editors note, but she also provoked us in the best possible ways and changed our thinking about life."
 
Rachel A. Ankeny, University of Adelaide, Australia
"This spirited collection not only provides intriguing biographies of life scientists whose histories have often been overlooked, but also forces us to revisit our usual narratives of how biological change is generated to consider the role of true novelty, especially in the hands and minds of quirky, eccentric, and oftentimes plain ornery characters in the right places at opportune times. Scientific advances come not only from experiments and theories but from creative and even outlandish dreams, and this volume brings together some of these radical dreamers and their stories to generate as many new questions as are answered, much as these scientists did in their own times."
 
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://www.press.uchicago.edu
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