Cover image for Evolutions : fifteen myths that explain our world / Oren Harman.
Title:
Evolutions : fifteen myths that explain our world / Oren Harman.
ISBN:
9780374150709
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018.
Physical Description:
242 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Contents:
Fate : the birth of the universe -- Hubris : the creation of the solar system -- Motherhood : the Earth and the Moon -- Immortality : life comes to the planet -- Love : the web of life -- Freedom : symbiosis -- Death : sex -- Pride: the origins of multi-cellularity -- Jealousy : the invention of the eye -- Curiosity : onto land -- Solitude : into the air -- Sacrifice : return to the sea -- Memory : the beginnings of consciousness -- Truth : language is born -- Hope : tricks of the mind.
Abstract:
"An artful exploration of how the language of science has replaced old mythologies" -- Provided by publisher.

"A brilliant, lyrical exploration of how modern science illuminates what it means to be human, from the award-winning author of The Price of Altruism. We no longer think, like the ancient Chinese did, that the world was hatched from an egg, or, like the Maori, that it came from the tearing-apart of a love embrace. The Greeks told of a tempestuous Hera and a cunning Zeus, but we now use genes and natural selection to explain fear and desire, and physics to demystify the workings of the universe. Science is an astounding achievement, but are we really any wiser than the ancients? Has science revealed the secrets of fate and immortality? Has it provided protection from jealousy or love? There are those who believe that science has replaced faith, but must it also be a death knell for mythology? Evolutions brings to life the latest scientific thinking on the birth of the universe and the solar system, the journey from a single cell all the way to our human minds. Reawakening our sense of wonder and terror at the world around us and within us, Oren Harman uses modern science to create new and original mythologies. Here are the Earth and the Moon presenting a cosmological view of motherhood, a panicking Mitochondrion introducing sex and death to the world, the loneliness of consciousness emerging from the memory of an octopus, and the birth of language in evolution summoning humankind's struggle with truth. Science may not solve our existential puzzles, but like the age-old legends, its magical discoveries can help us continue the never-ending search."--Dust jacket.
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Summary

Summary

A brilliant lyrical exploration of how modern science illuminates what it means to be human, from the award-winning author of The Price of Altruism

We no longer think, like the ancient Chinese did, that the world was hatched from an egg, or, like the Maori, that it came from the tearing-apart of a love embrace. The Greeks told of a tempestuous Hera and a cunning Zeus, but we now use genes and natural selection to explain fear and desire, and physics to demystify the workings of the universe.

Science is an astounding achievement, but are we really any wiser than the ancients? Has science revealed the secrets of fate and immortality? Has it provided protection from jealousy or love? There are those who believe that science has replaced faith, but must it also be a death knell for mythology?

Evolutions brings to life the latest scientific thinking on the birth of the universe and the solar system, the journey from a single cell all the way to our human minds. Reawakening our sense of wonder and terror at the world around us and within us, Oren Harman uses modern science to create new and original mythologies. Here are the earth and the moon presenting a cosmological view of motherhood, a panicking mitochondrion introducing sex and death to the world, the loneliness of consciousness emerging from the memory of an octopus, and the birth of language in evolution summoning humankind's struggle with truth. Science may not solve our existential puzzles, but like the age-old legends, its magical discoveries can help us continue the never-ending search.


Author Notes

Oren Harman 's book The Price of Altruism won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Science and Technology and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He is a renowned professor of the history of science and the Chair of the Program in Science Technology and Society at Bar Ilan University.


Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

This is a science text like no other. Although Harman (history of science, Bar-Ilan Univ., Israel; The Price of Altruism) follows a standard progression, from the creation of universe and planet Earth through the emergence of life up to modern humans, he does so quickly via a series of 15 vignettes that are more poetry than pedagogy. Each short chapter covers one phase of this history with the majority of text devoted to the development of life on Earth. These personal stories, narrated in the first person by creatures long since extinct, such as a trilobite, an early ancestor of whales, offer brevity but also serve those most familiar with what to look for; a section of "Illuminations" for each chapter reveals the science and sources behind the narrative. Rarely are actual scientists mentioned in the narratives, the great men and their discoveries take a back seat to the entities who tell the story and to philosophical debates about their supposed "advancements." For example, the chapter "Jealousy: The Invention of the Eye" is narrated by a trilobite who wonders if eyes are more hindrance than asset. -VERDICT Ideal for readers who find traditional science books lacking in philosophy.-Cate Schneiderman, Emerson Coll., Boston © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Introductionp. 3
Fate: The Birth of the Universep. 23
Hubris: The Creation of the Solar Systemp. 37
Motherhood: The Earth and the Moonp. 47
Immortality: Life Comes to the Planetp. 57
Love: The Web of Lifep. 67
Freedom: Symbiosisp. 77
Death: Sexp. 87
Pride: The Origins of Multicellularityp. 99
Jealousy: The Invention of the Eyep. 109
Curiosity: Onto Landp. 121
Solitude: Into the Airp. 135
Sacrifice: Return to the Seap. 147
Memory: The Beginnings of Consciousnessp. 157
Truth: Language Is Bornp. 169
Hope: Tricks of the Mindp. 179
Illuminationsp. 193
Acknowledgmentsp. 241

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