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Mutation: The History of an Idea from Darwin to Genomics

By: Elof Axel Carlson

163 pages, 11 b/w illustrations

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press

Hardback | Jun 2011 | #192620 | ISBN-13: 9781936113309
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £36.00 $47/€41 approx

About this book

This work, by noted author Elof A. Carlson, explores six generations of mutation research, providing the background--the people and the ideas--for this biological journey. The book shows how generational definitions or assessments of mutation have responded to the technologies added to science and the experiments that abounded with the inquiries of each successive generation. These observations are combined with an exploration of how the nonscientific public has shifted its understanding and concern about mutations over the past 150 or more years. Carlson's historical approach in this book--examining the evolution of a concept--reveals the way science works, incrementally by small steps of additions and replacements rather than by dramatic, and rare, paradigm shifts.

...the idea of mutation has meant different things over time, changing greatly how Darwin perceived it to how it is used in the context of the genome. It is the evolution of the concept of mutation that drives Elof Axel Carlson's new book... Beginning with Darwin and pre-Mendelian ideas of what mutation was, continuing through to the ideas of mutagenesis,... and mutation in relation to evolution, Carlson admirably straddles the very fine line between losing the reader in overly detailed explanations or by being so vague as to say nothing at all. The book is a quick read. It doesn't seek so much to re-educate readers on what mutation is, as it does construct a timeline of how scientists have perceived it through the past couple of centuries.... Carlson's book presents a history of the concept of mutation, but also a history of how science itself has changed because of that word's evolution.... In seeking to lend a sense of history to a word that is used often in today's science, Carlson succeeds.

- Genome Web Daily News


1. A Brief Overview of the Concept of Mutation
2. Ideas of Mutation before There Was a Mendelian Basis for Genetics
3. Cytological and Mendelian Aspects of Mutation
4. The Fly Lab Redefines Mutation
5. Radiation and the Analysis of Mutation by Mutagenesis
6. Using Biochemical Approaches to Study Mutation
7. Mutation in Relation to Gene Structure
8. Mutation in Relation to Evolution
9. Mutation in Relation to Genetic Engineering
10. Mutation in Relation to Society
11. Mutation in Relation to History and Philosophy of Science
Glossary of Terms Associated with Mutation

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