Synopses & Reviews
From an acclaimed scientific thinker and writer comes the most exciting advance in evolution since Dawkins' The Selfish Genehow the extraordinary role of viruses in evolution is revolutionizing biology and medicine Combining Darwin, the double helix, the genome project, and viruses to explain the last great mystery of evolution, this book is the product of Frank Ryan's decade of research at the frontiers of a new science called viral symbiosis, and the amazing revolution that it has had in these few years. Still the greatest breakthrough in biological science, Darwin's theory of evolution depended on steady variation of living things over timebut he was unable to explain how this variation occurred. Since publication of the Origin of Species, we have discovered three main sources for this variationmutation, hybridization, and epigenetics. Then on February 12, 2001, the evidence for perhaps the most extraordinary cause of variation was simultaneously released by two organizationsthe code for the entire human genome. Not only was the human genome unbelievably simple (only 10 times more complicated than a bacteria), but embedded in the code were large fragments that were derived from virusesfragments that were vital to evolution of all organisms, and the evidence for a fourth and vital source of variationviruses. As scientists begin to look for evidence of viral involvement in more and more processes, they have discovered that they are vital in nearly every caseand with this understanding comes the possibility of manipulating the role of the viruses to help fight a huge range of diseases.
About the Author
Frank Ryan is a physician and the author of Darwin's Blind Spot, The Forgotten Plagueacclaimed by the World Health Organization and a New York Times Book of the Year, and Virus X. He pioneered the evolutionary concepts of "viral symbiosis" and "genomic creativity" and has contributed to the modern understanding of the evolution of the human genome. He has written for New Scientist and occasionally reviews books for the New York Times.