Understanding the Human Genome in the book Genome by Matt Ridley

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Understanding the Human Genome in the book Genome by Matt Ridley Genome: The Autobiography of A Species in 23 Chapters by Matt Ridley is an interesting book. It is written in a style that is very casual and very understandable. If someone who knew nothing about genetics or biology were to read this book, they would find it very interesting and informative. Ridley uses basic scientific terms so as not to confuse the average reader. Ridley, who has a Ph.D. in zoology, is a big supporter of the Darwinian view of the world. He views the genome as a historical documentation of our species from its conception. He describes our evolutionary history. He tells about the mass extinctions that occurred in the past, and that it was by chance our cellular ancestors survived these events. Ridley gives us an insight into molecular biology by choosing one gene from each or our 23 chromosomes and elaborating on it. Along with evolution and microbiology, this book goes into other fields of biology, including medicine and biotechnology. The book is very educational. I learned about the homeobox genes, which guide the development of the entire human body from a single cell. I learned that the gene for telomerase is the focus for a discussion of aging and immortality. I also learned that the ethnic differences in the frequency of a particular breast cancer gene are used to describe the relationships among population genetics, prehistoric migrations, and linguistic groups. Also, the gene for the classical ABO blood group is the springboard for a discussion of genetic selection and drift. This book reveals genes that we share with all living creatures and those that are unique to our species. It describes genes that are essential to every cell and then those that seem to serve no useful purpose at all. It tells us about genes that predict disease with complete certainty and those that only tilt the scales. Ridley seems to focus a lot on behavior and it’s evolutionary background. He writes about the recent evidence of genetic links to memory and intelligence, personality, and language. Ridley sees it as genes and the environment influence the brain. It is clear that Ridley is a big fan of the Genome Project. He writes with enthusiasm about the rapid advancement and success of genetics.

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