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.
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
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
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
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
12. Rachel Carson: Prophet for the Environment
V. The Ethologists
13. Jane Goodall: She Dreamed of Tarzan
14. Francis Crick and the Problem of Consciousness
15. David Sloan Wilson: Visionary, Idealist, Ideologue
Mark E. Borrello
VI. The Systematizers
16. D’Arcy Thompson: Archetypical Visionary
17. James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis: “A New Look at Life on Earth” . . . for the Life and the Earth Sciences
18. Big Dreams for Small Creatures: Ilana and Eugene Rosenberg’s Path to the Hologenome Theory
Epilogue: The Scientist Dreamer
List of Contributors
Oren Harman is the chair of the Graduate Program in Science, Technology, and Society at Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel, the author of The Man Who Invented the Chromosome and The Price of Altruism, and coeditor of Rebels, Mavericks, and Heretics in Biology. He lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Michael R. Dietrich is a professor in the History and Philosophy of Science Department at the University of Pittsburgh. and coeditor of The Educated Eye and Rebels, Mavericks, and Heretics in Biology.