The Seeds of Life: From Aristotle to da Vinci, from

The Seeds of Life: From Aristotle to da Vinci, from Sharks' Teeth to Frogs' Pants, the Long and Strange Quest to Discover Where Babies Come From ❮Download❯ ➺ The Seeds of Life: From Aristotle to da Vinci, from Sharks' Teeth to Frogs' Pants, the Long and Strange Quest to Discover Where Babies Come From Author Edward Dolnick – Thomashillier.co.uk Why cracking the code of human conception took centuries of wild theories, misogynist blunders, and ludicrous mistakes Throughout most of human history, babies were surprises People knew the basics me Why cracking the code of human of Life: PDF/EPUB Ä conception took centuries of wild theories, misogynist blunders, and ludicrous mistakes Throughout most of human history, babies were surprises People knew the basics men and women had sex, and sometimes babies followed But beyond that the origins of life were a colossal mystery The Seeds of Life is the remarkable and rollicking story of how a series of blundering geniuses and brilliant amateurs struggled for two centuries The Seeds eBook Ï to discover where, exactly, babies come from Taking a page from investigative thrillers, acclaimed science writer Edward Dolnick looks to these early scientists as if they were detectives hot on the trail of a bedeviling and urgent mystery These strange searchers included an Italian surgeon using shark teeth to prove that female reproductive organs were not failed male genitalia, and a Catholic priest who designed ingenious miniature pants to prove that frogs required semen Seeds of Life: PDF/EPUB ç to fertilize their eggsA witty and rousing history of science, The Seeds of Life presents our greatest scientists struggling against their perceptions, their religious beliefs, and their deep seated prejudices to uncover how and where we come from.


About the Author: Edward Dolnick

Edward Dolnick is an American writer, of Life: PDF/EPUB Ä formerly a science writer at the Boston Globe He has been published in the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Magazine, and the Washington Post, among other publications His books include Madness on the Couch Blaming the Victim in the Heyday of Psychoanalysis and Down the Great Unknown John Wesley Powell s Journey of Discovery and Tragedy Through the Grand Canyon .



10 thoughts on “The Seeds of Life: From Aristotle to da Vinci, from Sharks' Teeth to Frogs' Pants, the Long and Strange Quest to Discover Where Babies Come From

  1. Jim Jim says:

    This isn t just a look at how babies are created, but at the path biology took Dolnick did a great job explaining the thoughts of the day how that influenced the conclusions scientists drew from their experiments observations I was continually amazed by just how recent our understanding of cells was the wild ideas that had reigned before For instance, because of religion, they thought for a long time that all humans had been created, so babies were carried from generation to generation This isn t just a look at how babies are created, but at the path biology took Dolnick did a great job explaining the thoughts of the day how that influenced the conclusions scientists drew from their experiments observations I was continually amazed by just how recent our understanding of cells was the wild ideas that had reigned before For instance, because of religion, they thought for a long time that all humans had been created, so babies were carried from generation to generation like a bunch of Russian dolls stacked one inside another.Of course, the Catholic church stifled science When Galen wrote that wounds were a window into the human body, The early church insisted that it was sinful to peep through any such window Humankind s task was to rise above the body, not to immerse itself in the contemplation of its muck and fluids It is farexcellent to know that the flesh will rise again and will live for ever, wrote Saint Augustine, around the year 400 CE, than anything that scientific men have been able to discover in it by careful examination Since God had hidden the body s secrets from prying eyes, Augustine argued, it was impious to try to subvert his intentions The anatomists cruel zeal for science had led them astray Curiosity was a sin, not a virtue, and in fact a deadly sin Augustine railed against it with fury To study nature or even the inanimate world, Augustine wrote, was to indulge the lust of the eyes This was perversion What a grotesque worldview Curiosity a sin Thankfully, European culture slowly outgrew such idiocy, but even so many of the scientists were very religious that colored their thinking badly They also had sheer incredulity to overcome, though For over a century they knew about sperm cells, but couldn t believe they had anything to do with reproduction They were believed to be parasites It s hard to believe from a modern perspective, but Dolnick made their thinking clear showed the logic.It was a fascinating journey that was well narrated Highly recommended


  2. Melora Melora says:

    Pop science history in comic mode, I found this endlessly fascinating and funny Dolnick traces the history of the scientific inquiry into the mystery of where babies come from, starting with the investigations of Leonardo Da Vinci, in the 1490s, though he summarizes the thinking up to Leonardo, going back to the Egyptians Greeks all the way up to Oscar Hertwig s observation of the fertilization of a sea urchin egg in 1875 His stories of enterprising scientists and the challenges, both tech Pop science history in comic mode, I found this endlessly fascinating and funny Dolnick traces the history of the scientific inquiry into the mystery of where babies come from, starting with the investigations of Leonardo Da Vinci, in the 1490s, though he summarizes the thinking up to Leonardo, going back to the Egyptians Greeks all the way up to Oscar Hertwig s observation of the fertilization of a sea urchin egg in 1875 His stories of enterprising scientists and the challenges, both technological and conceptual, that they faced are effectively linked though, as he says, the story is not one that proceeds in an orderly way, but, rather, by fits and starts, with mad dashes down blind alleys and amusingly told, complemented by instructive illustrations and delightfully wide ranging and occasionally illuminating footnotes.To give a sense of Dolnick s style, here is a bit from the chapter Frogs in Silk Pants, on Lazzaro Spallanzani, who made a close study of frog sex in the late 1740 s, from which comes the illustration on the cover of my edition He sat at his workbench with cramped fingers and weary eyes, cutting and sewing dozens and dozens of tight fitting, miniature boxer shorts made of silk For frogs.The point of the boxers was to prevent the male s semen from reaching the female s eggs Would the females become pregnant even so, as the seminal aura sent out its ghostly waves Or would the shorts, which were wax coated as an additional safeguard, serve as a full body condom Spallanzani did not describe the boxers in any detail, and though he was a skilled artist, he made no drawings it is tempting to picture the shorts as adorned with hearts or even with frogs The idea of the breeches, however whimsical and ridiculous it may appear, did not displease me, he wrote gamely, and I resolved to put it into practice, He wrestled the males into their outfits Undeterred, they sought out the females with their customary eagerness, Spallanzani wrote, and performed, as well as they could, the act of generation Then he gathered up the eggs Half came from the females, who had mated with boxer clad males, half from females whose partners had carried on au naturel Spallanzani peered at the two sets of eggs Which would grow into tadpoles You have to admire that sort of dedication and ingenuity, right This is a wonderfully entertaining and engaging story


  3. Steve Wiggins Steve Wiggins says:

    Who isn t fascinated by sex Or,properly, the question of where we come from As might be expected Edward Dolnick introduces a fair amount of humor into this topic that makes people nervous and shy The question, however, is of perennial interest where do babies come from The answer isn t as straightforward as it might seem.This is a history of science book written like a detective novel It traces ideas of human reproduction mainly from the period of Leonardo da Vinci Dolnick does discu Who isn t fascinated by sex Or,properly, the question of where we come from As might be expected Edward Dolnick introduces a fair amount of humor into this topic that makes people nervous and shy The question, however, is of perennial interest where do babies come from The answer isn t as straightforward as it might seem.This is a history of science book written like a detective novel It traces ideas of human reproduction mainly from the period of Leonardo da Vinci Dolnick does discuss Aristotle, but the focus inon the late Middle Ages and beyond, when science was really kicking in up through the Victorian Era when the factual understanding of conception was discovered This is a fascinating book A little repetitious and a touch long, it nevertheless retains the reader s interest throughout.As I used to tell my students, as noted on my blog Sects and Violence in the Ancient World there are problems understanding reproduction biblically Ancient people thought, for the most part, that full babies were contained in semen and woman merely provided a place for babies to grow There were other ideas about, as Dolnick discusses, but the idea of male priority was closely tied with this view of the world All cells, including sex cells, are too small to see without a microscope The book spends quite a bit of time on van Leeuwenhoek for this reason His use of the microscope to examine semen was, however, deeply laced with religious ideas There s no separating morality from sexuality Remember none of these people knew about genetics Not even Darwin did.William Harvey is another major player in this story Some of the stories are a little disturbing, since these explorers had to examine recently living and mating animals to get an idea of what was going on The study of electricity and the belief in the life force also played a role here, tying Frankenstein into the mix Many other scientists are discussed along the way, but the reader won t soon forget Lazzaro Spallanzani and his sewing underwear for frogs to discover the role of semen contacting eggs in external fertilization Finally in 1875 Oscar Hertwig cracked the code, noting that both sperm and ova were necessary to reproduce sexually.Lots of colorful characters, strong headed in their opinions, and often misguided in them as well, populate this fascinating story Bringing science and sex together may seem a strange combination, but it produces some interesting progeny


  4. Angie Boyter Angie Boyter says:

    Where do babies come from Every child asks that question, but so did Aristotle, Darwin, and many other brilliant minds through the ages Some of their ideas are as crazy as anything a child might dream up, and In The Seeds of Life Edward Dolnick has written a book that is both highly informative and highly entertaining and gave melaughs than most comedies As a woman I was both offended and amused at the renowned thinkers of ages past whose were convinced that women, as the inferior sex, m Where do babies come from Every child asks that question, but so did Aristotle, Darwin, and many other brilliant minds through the ages Some of their ideas are as crazy as anything a child might dream up, and In The Seeds of Life Edward Dolnick has written a book that is both highly informative and highly entertaining and gave melaughs than most comedies As a woman I was both offended and amused at the renowned thinkers of ages past whose were convinced that women, as the inferior sex, must play a subordinate role in the giving of life I do have to admit that their inability to see an egg inside female specimens made the theory that the man contributed all the material for the new baby seem a little less farfetched Somehow they never seemed to come up with an idea of why, in that case, so many children look like their mothers Their failure to develop aaccurate view also seemsforgivable when we learn that it was not until 1875 that anyone saw the process of fertilization play out In that year a German scientist named Oscar Hertwig dropped some sea urchin semen near an egg and watched through his microscope while the semen penetrated through to the egg s interior For that observation we should give some credit to microscope pioneer Antony van Leeuwenhoek but not too much For all his smarts Leeuwenhoek was a devoted proponent of the theory that only the male contributed the material that would form the future baby.In addition to wondering where the material for new life comes from, there is also the question of what causes that life to spark into existence, a question that produced many ideas both reasonable seeming and outlandish, such as, in the wake of Newton s theory of gravity, a proposal that gravity is the force that gives life There are little sidetrips into related and equally interesting scientific history, such as Harvey s discovery of blood circulation and Ben Franklin s experiments with electricity.I could go on at length about my favorite bits from The Seeds of Life, but I recommend instead you read the book and pick out your own favorites Whether you re interested in science or history or just enjoy interesting facts and a true detective story, this book will delight and entertain you


  5. Fox Fox says:

    I received a copy of this book for free courtesy of the GoodReads first reads program in exchange for an honest review.This book proved irresistible to me It is a history of the perplexing question as to where exactly babies come from, and all of the bizarre theories that it bred over time Instead of mocking the beliefs of the earlier civilizations, it takes a wry and respectful view In truth, it is amazing that we know the answer to that question even now, and the fact that things such as ma I received a copy of this book for free courtesy of the GoodReads first reads program in exchange for an honest review.This book proved irresistible to me It is a history of the perplexing question as to where exactly babies come from, and all of the bizarre theories that it bred over time Instead of mocking the beliefs of the earlier civilizations, it takes a wry and respectful view In truth, it is amazing that we know the answer to that question even now, and the fact that things such as mammalian eggs were theorized long before they could even be seen is astonishing.This book is full of wonder, and it does much to restore wonder to the act of reproduction While it is a bit bizarre that, for instance, even after spermatozoa were seen they were for ages thought of as littlethan parasites the author explains how natural the thought was, given that at the same time period the world was proven to be full of such animalcules Equally bizarre might be seen the thought of ovaries as female testicles and testicles themselves serving as nothingthan counterweights until you really start to think how little of reproduction is in fact intuitive The book is amusing, even laugh out loud funny at times, but deeply respectful all the same It restores to life a humor and wonder that we sometimes take for granted, given what we now know Sure, every biology textbook in the world takes these facts as elementary but isn t it amazing all the same I can t recommend this book enough to anyone curious about the history of where babies come from, and what we ve believed over the years.This book has proven a delightful, informative, and surprisingly fascinating history of one of life s most basic questions.And yes, there is a chapter about frogs wearing pants


  6. Kathryn Kathryn says:

    A fascinating journey through misogynistic scientists the author is very apologetic about that, it s sweet fumbling in the dark to discover just what DOES need to happen for a baby to be created Mr Dolnick s sharp wit and oh, he has some zingers, I had to share his comment about Columbus discovering the clitoris with everyone I know and his insightful commentary make what could be a dry or simply patently awful subject a delight This book is one of the most entertaining history of sci A fascinating journey through misogynistic scientists the author is very apologetic about that, it s sweet fumbling in the dark to discover just what DOES need to happen for a baby to be created Mr Dolnick s sharp wit and oh, he has some zingers, I had to share his comment about Columbus discovering the clitoris with everyone I know and his insightful commentary make what could be a dry or simply patently awful subject a delight This book is one of the most entertaining history of science books I ve read, helped in part by the ridiculous experiments biologists concocted in an attempt to discover the origins of life There are, in fact, frogs in pants and I think that s DELIGHTFUL


  7. Stephanie Stephanie says:

    We take so much of our understanding of the world for granted, so it s really hard to remember that there was a time a long, long, LONG time when no one knew where babies came from They knew that sex had something to do with it, but that s as far as it went clear up until around 150 years ago Well written, with lots of humor and not technical at all, and there really was a scientist who really did sew tiny little pants for frogs How charming is that


  8. Tim Tim says:

    This is not a bad book There are some useful bits of information about things people knew and when they knew it There is also some insight into how the state of the world what examples were and were not available influenced their perceptions in areas being investigated This is a light account that rambles and is longer than necessary.


  9. Riaz Rizvi Riaz Rizvi says:

    Excellent story about the process of scientific discovery, specifically here on how we determined the secret of fertilization over the centuries Obviously better instrumentation is a key player, microscopes and their improvements What stood out for me though was the importance of metaphors available to society at large The author made a convincing case to me that without the prevalence of automated systems, like automatons and mechanized pianos, it was hard for scientists before the 18th cent Excellent story about the process of scientific discovery, specifically here on how we determined the secret of fertilization over the centuries Obviously better instrumentation is a key player, microscopes and their improvements What stood out for me though was the importance of metaphors available to society at large The author made a convincing case to me that without the prevalence of automated systems, like automatons and mechanized pianos, it was hard for scientists before the 18th century to propose a model for life that was self directed


  10. Cindy Leighton Cindy Leighton says:

    I had known that Western, horticultural societies had, for perhaps thousands of years, believed men provided all the material for babies in the form of seeds implanted in the soil of the woman s uterus, because of course men provided all of life but hadn t thought about how this enabled men to not worry about the results of raping women, because their seed would be passed down unsullied by the women who were simply literally dirt This book is a FASCINATING look at the mostly Western st I had known that Western, horticultural societies had, for perhaps thousands of years, believed men provided all the material for babies in the form of seeds implanted in the soil of the woman s uterus, because of course men provided all of life but hadn t thought about how this enabled men to not worry about the results of raping women, because their seed would be passed down unsullied by the women who were simply literally dirt This book is a FASCINATING look at the mostly Western struggle to figure out how babies are created, although I appreciate that Dolnick does include a brief foray into non Western ideas It really wasn t until 1875 that scientists identified the human egg and determined that both egg and sperm were cells and both necessary to create life I DIDN T know, that for hundreds of years after sperm were first seen swimming in semen, they were assumed to be parasites as were other animacules or parasites seen swimming in pond water or other liquids They thought the liquid of the semen provided some spark of life Or odder still, from Aristotle on, one camp thought that perhaps semen and menstrual blood mixed together to grow babies arguing that women stopped bleeding while pregnant and of course people continued to have sex, so continuing to add semen Ick This makes the whole theory of the South American Bar that babies need repeated washes of semen to grow as nutrition seem muchreasonable If a child dies, a woman may, in a later pregnancy, take on a second father to help with the feeding of the baby Of course this second father has other obligations bringing fish and other valuable proteins to the mother which actually does provide nutrition for the baby and continued financial obligations to the child after birth Not a bad system.Rarely do I read a book where the footnotes are so darned entertaining Never skip the footnotes they are delightful It is in footnotes that we learn of Darwin s horror upon learning that female wasps inject caterpillars with a poison that paralyszes it, lays her eggs which slowly devour the still living caterpillar saving the heart for last I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and onipotent God would have designedly created these wasps The entire historical review of the desperate search for the mechanism of creation is just fascinating I am an absolute sucker for a good medical history it is like reading a murder mystery in reverse how can you not see the obvious when you know the answer Seeing the wrong twists and turns that distracted learned and knowledgeable men men for hundreds, thousands, of years, is fascinating Of course mammalian eggs are terribly difficult to see, so understandable And most importantly, as Dolnick eloquently points out Observing was one thing, understanding another Biology is so complex understanding how sperm and egg cells even after they were discovered knew what to do, how to grow, was just mind blowing.Terrific book fascinating topic Well researched, very well written, well explained Just terrific read it


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *