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Why Us?: How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves

Popular ScienceOut of Print

By: James Le Fanu

320 pages, 60 b/w plates, With index

Harper Collins

Hardback | Feb 2009 | #178770 | ISBN-13: 9780007120277
Out of Print Details

About this book

Esteemed medical scientist and journalist James Le Fanu sets out in this lively, fascinating and provocative book to tackle the major questions of man's unique place in the universe. 'Why Us?' examines the unexpected outcome of the two great scientific projects of the past twenty years, which have sought to resolve the last great unknowns and explain our place in the universe. The first, the Human Genome Project completed in 2001, promised to crack the secrets of genetic inheritance by demonstrating how we, like all living things, reproduce our kind with such fidelity from one generation to the next. The second is the phenomenal advance in brain imaging, which has allowed neuroscientists to observe the brain 'in action' and thus explain the properties of reason, imagination and memory. Ten years on, however, it is clear that this is not how things have turned out. It is simply not possible to get from the monotonous gene sequence of the Double Helix to the infinite beauty and diversity of the living world, nor from the electrical activity of the brain to the endless possibilities of the human mind.

Not only do we remain a mystery to ourselves, but we continue to be the central mystery of the universe to which we belong. In his brilliantly argued counterattack on Dawkins-style materialist views, James Le Fanu sets out the limitations of science. There is, indeed, far 'more than we can know'.

From the reviews of The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine (Little , Brown, 1999) 'Erudite, absorbing! Le Fanu writes with clarity and authority and has the knack of making even the most complex developments exciting and enjoyable' SIR ROY PORTER, Observer 'This excellent book has challenged many of my views' DAVID OWEN, Spectator 'Endlessly fascinating' Financial Times 'As lucid as it is comprehensive! fascinating' THOMAS STUTTAFORD, Literary Review

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James Le Fanu is a medical doctor and regular columnist for the Sunday and Daily Telegraph. He graduated from Cambridge University and the Royal London Hospital in 1974. He has published research articles in the 'British Medical Journal', 'Lancet' and the 'Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine'.

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