Logic of Chance, The: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution
Product Author Bios
Eugene Koonin (Bethesda, MD) is a Senior Investigator at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, and Editor-in-Chief of Biology Direct. Dr. Koonin's group performs research in many areas of evolutionary genomics, with a special emphasis on whole-genome approaches to the study of major transitions in life's evolution, such as the origin of eukaryotes, the evolution of eukaryotic gene structure, the origin and evolution of different classes of viruses, and evolutionary systems biology.
The Logic of Chance offers a reappraisal and a new synthesis of theories, concepts, and hypotheses on the key aspects of the evolution of life on earth in light of comparative genomics and systems biology. The author presents many specific examples from systems and comparative genomic analysis to begin to build a new, much more detailed, complex, and realistic picture of evolution. The book examines a broad range of topics in evolutionary biology including the inadequacy of natural selection and adaptation as the only or even the main mode of evolution; the key role of horizontal gene transfer in evolution and the consequent overhaul of the Tree of Life concept; the central, underappreciated evolutionary importance of viruses; the origin of eukaryotes as a result of endosymbiosis; the concomitant origin of cells and viruses on the primordial earth; universal dependences between genomic and molecular-phenomic variables; and the evolving landscape of constraints that shape the evolution of genomes and molecular phenomes.
"Koonin's account of viral and pre-eukaryotic evolution is undoubtedly up-to-date. His "mega views" of evolution (given what was said above) and his cosmological musings, on the other hand, are interesting reading." Summing Up: Recommended
Reprinted with permission from CHOICE, copyright by the American Library Association.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Heavy but very thought provoking read,
This review is from: The Logic of Chance: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution (FT Press Science) (Kindle Edition)This book is targeted at the experts but can be understood well enough by knowledgeable amateurs with some background in genomics (even unofficial; mine comes from my hobby of reading research papers because I am fascinated with biology). Having already read a good number of Dr. Koonin's papers as well as several others referenced in the book helped.
Anyway, this was a fascinating, thought-provoking read, though it was also rather difficult. Koonin's writing style, which serves him quite well in academic papers, doesn't translate extremely well to a full length book. For the sake of comparison, because both books seem to be targeted at a similar level crowd, it is not as readable as "The Extended Phenotype" by Richard Dawkins.
However, the ideas are fascinating, and this book seems to be an excellent overview of modern genomics research and what it tells us about what we understand and misunderstand about evolution. I certainly learned a lot about these topics as... Read more
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Challenging and fascinating,
This review is from: The Logic of Chance: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution (FT Press Science) (Hardcover)In the preface to this book, the author writes that he set out with the desire to write a popular book along the lines of A Brief History of Time but on the subject of evolution. He soon recognized that the book "refused to be written that way" and became much more scientific and specialized. This is quite true. I am not a biologist but a physician, so I have had a fair number of biology courses, but much of this book was at about the limit of my ability to absorb, or even beyond. You probably won't get very far without a basic understanding of molecular biology: chromosomes, genes, DNA, tRNA, mRNA, transcription, translation, replication, ribosomes, operons, introns, splicing, and so on. On the other hand, if you have that background and some basic understanding with the concepts of biological evolution, you'll probably do fine with the book; little else is required--no math or biochemistry, for example. So be sure to take advantage of the "Look Inside" feature before you buy... Read more
30 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Likely to be a Classic,
This review is from: The Logic of Chance: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution (FT Press Science) (Kindle Edition)I'm not qualified to judge whether there are technical errors, so I will assume that a person who has hundreds of peer-reviewed publications will not have made many mistakes.
I can, however, judge the beauty of the writing and compare it to other classics, such as The Selfish Gene and A Brief History of Time. It compares well, even though it contains numerous diagrams and formulas. It's a bit more technical than those works, but only where it needs to be in order to make its points.
But it will be a classic because it deals handily with nearly every contested area of evolution, neatly demolishing every criticism leveled by creationists. It does this by making positive statements about what is known rather than by arguing against creationism. This is a refreshing change from most books written for a wide audience.
Perhaps its boldest claim is that there has been more progress made in the last ten years than in the previous 150 years.
I... Read more
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Online Sample Chapter
Table of Contents
Preface: Toward a postmodern synthesis of evolutionary biology vii
Chapter 1: The fundamentals of evolution: Darwin and Modern Synthesis 1
Chapter 2: From Modern Synthesis to evolutionary genomics: Multiple processes and patterns of evolution 21
Chapter 3: Comparative genomics: Evolving genomescapes 49
Chapter 4: Genomics, systems biology, and universals of evolution: Genome evolution as a phenomenon of statistical physics 81
Chapter 5: The web genomics of the prokaryotic world: Vertical and horizontal flows of genes, the mobilome, and the dynamic pangenomes 105
Chapter 6: The phylogenetic forest and the quest for the elusive Tree of Life in the age of genomics 145
Chapter 7: The origins of eukaryotes: Endosymbiosis, the strange story of introns, and the ultimate importance of unique events in evolution 171
Chapter 8: The non-adaptive null hypothesis of genome evolution and origins of biological complexity 225
Chapter 9: The Darwinian, Lamarckian, and Wrightean modalities of evolution, robustness, evolvability, and the creative role of noise in evolution 257
Chapter 10: The Virus World and its evolution 293
Chapter 11: The Last Universal Common Ancestor, the origin of cells, and the primordial gene pool 329
Chapter 12: Origin of life: The emergence of translation, replication, metabolism, and membranes--the biological, geochemical, and cosmological perspectives 351
Chapter 13: The postmodern state of evolutionary biology 397
Appendix A: Postmodernist philosophy, metanarratives, and the nature and goals of the scientific endeavor 421
Appendix B: Evolution of the cosmos and life: Eternal inflation, “many worlds in one,” anthropic selection, and a rough estimate of the probability of the origin of life 431
About the author 497
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