Book Book Review, Title The Laws of Medicine, Author Siddhartha Mukherjee, Rating 3.5,
The Laws of Medicine
Modern medicine began embracing scientific methods during the last couple of centuries, and in the past one hundred years this has produced an explosion of medical technologies that have aided physicians in significantly controlling some diseases and in particular, extending lives. Today in developed countries, many tests are available for diagnosis and many drugs are available for possible treatment. So why can't physicians today just run a comprehensive battery of tests for every sick patient and spit out a clear diagnosis, and with that, a clear prognosis and plan for a cure? Siddhartha Mukherjee proffers an answer via his Laws of Medicine.
Are evolutionary biology, intelligent design and the existence of God compatible? A reasonable case can be made for it, particularly if one relaxes their culture warrior muscles for a moment, and considers the argument that: science offers little tangible evidence of abiogenesis, the spontaneous creation of life from inanimate material, leaving room for God as the creator of the initial life forms; that God could just as well have created the remainder of life via the slow mechanism of biological evolution. This is not a new argument, and finds a much larger audience than the shouters like to acknowledge.
Epigenetic studies are burgeoning; these genetic mechanisms that are external to direct DNA/RNA encoding and expression are being intensively studied, particularly how environmental factors can stimulate methylation and acetylation of bases of DNA or histone proteins, which then affects the expression of specific gene activity. Is epigenetic modification heritable, and if so, does this represent a revival of Lamarckism?
Beijing Genomics Institute, BGI, situated in Shenzhen, on the border between Guangdong and Hong Kong, claims the title of the world's biggest Genomics institute. Their president Jian Wang said, 'For the last 500 years, you (the West) have been leading the way with innovation. We are no longer interested in following.' The scale of their sequencing capability is large, as are their goals: to crack hunger, illness, evolution - and the genetics of human intelligence.
The fascination of astronomy for me, beyond the beauty of the heavens in the night sky, beyond the immense imponderables of the current model of a vast and ancient universe, is the idea that our understanding regarding the universe has been gleaned by observing from the Earth a few points of light in the sky. One illustration of this can be found in the history of our knowledge of the moons of Jupiter.
When Fred Rickson taught his section of General Biology at Oregon State, I made sure to attend all of his lectures, as he opened them with his┬áevolutionary zingers, hoping that his students would would be enticed to be more prompt than usual. ┬áMy favorite was his zinger about┬áthe three-way symbiotic relationship between a bat, a moth, and a mite.
I treasure the science education I obtained at Oregon State University. One standout class was General Biology, a portion of which was taught by professor Fred Rickson. He did not like people slipping in late, so he gave short teasers promptly at the start of the hour, which he entitled evolutionary zingers, hoping that his students would enjoy the stories sufficiently to show up on time. It definitely worked for me. I was not in the habit of attending a lot of lectures, but the intricate stories of complex life told by professor Rickson were as attractive to me as nectar "fountains" are to acacia ants, the subject of one of his zingers.