Headline March 21, 2017/ ''' *THY GENE TON* '''

''' *THY GENE TON* '''

Scientist  Sidhartha Mukherjee could very easily be,  one of the most accomplished  *Scientist and Storyteller*   in the world.

Scientist Sidhartha Mukherjee has a  remarkable ability   to translate academic, abstract concepts into very personal and delightful narrative.

His Pulitzer Prize-winning book, *The Emperor of all Maladies*,  used his background in treating cancer patients, to cross personal and professional boundaries. 

But where The Emperor of Maladies focused on Mukherjee's experiences with his patients, his new book, *The Gene*,    shines a light on his own familial experiences.

It starts with  Mukherjee's own family history;  *two of his uncles are victims of   'unravellings of the mind,''    and the haunting spectre of  mental illness permeates his life so deeply that he feels compelled to confess to his wife before they get married.

Luckily for all, rather than spend umpteen pages on his personal demons, Mukherjee speedily plummets onto the historical origins of today's genetic science, ranging across over a century and half of the discipline.

The Gene is a blitzkrieg of erudition, blending history, sociology, anthropology, cultural studies and of course, biology to examine heredity and the human condition: how much of who and what we are is predetermined?

In prose which is sometimes grandiose, sometimes complex, but mostly readable, Mukherjee describes how the the first abstract intimations of what a gene could be were expressed by Pythagoras and Aristotle-

How Gregor Mendel and his pea plants translated abstraction into appearance.

How James Watson and Francis Crick were able to actually understand the structures that enabled it. Ultimately, he addresses how we are at stage in history where we can narrow down the impact of a fundamental reality  -say, biological gender   -to a single gene.

The structure of the book is much the same as that of its subject. 

Bracketed between the twisting phosphate backbone of personal history and scientific enquiry are the acid bases of ambition, theology, gender and culture that have paired together to express hundreds of different perspectives on genetic science as it stands today.

[Can you tell that I, once upon a time, had pretensions of being a biologist?] 

But rather than just focusing on  ''an intimate history''  [as the books subtitle goes], Mukhergee takes a swipe at some of the bigger issues: 
how will knowing our genes change who we are, and what impact will this knowledge have on our futures.

The context of these questions is sometimes horrifying to be sure, with historical flashbacks to just the  well known  ''racial hygiene''  movement of the Nazis,  but also the 1920s-

When the Supreme Court of the United States approved the sterilisation of individuals in the effort to eradicate hereditary mental illnesses.

This is not just for shock value, it's quiet disconcerting to realize that the word  ''eugenics''   started life as an earnest descriptor of efforts to better the quality of life for human beings.

And while  Mukherjee does not shy away from describing these  [at best] misguided efforts, neither does he harp about them  ad infinitum, preferring instead to link the evolution  [pun intended]  of genomic science to the larger issue of understanding what it is that makes us who we are.

In attempting to build this link,  The Gene  races through a dizzying array of historical attitudes.

It attempts to understand how we get from pea plants of various heights, to a point in time when, for a few hundred dollars-

You can get your genome [and its consequent indications of  physical or mental  landmines]   mapped in its entirety.  

The road map of  scientific progress  is presented  as a bit of a  fait-accompli. 
True! : Mapping the history and the future of the gene that defines who we are in a single book is not an easy task. 

The World Students Society honors Scientist Siddhartha Mukherjee, and thanks the reviewer of the book, Mohsin Siddiqui, a bibliophile and an aspiring writer, for the aforementioned work.

The Honour and Serving of the  ''Operational Research''  on  Code breaking continues.

With respectful dedication to the Scientists, Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society and Twitter-!E-WOW!   -the Ecosystem 2011:

''' Books & Authors '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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