978-0-7567-5782-3 / 9780756757823

Fly: The Unsung Hero of 20Th-Century Science


Publisher:Diane Pub Co



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About the book:

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana, and biologists like fruit flies. Evolutionary geneticist and science journalist Martin Brookes explores the not-quite-microscopic world of Drosophila in Fly: The Unsung Hero of 20th-Century Science. Instantly familiar to any student of high school biology, the fruit fly is one of the most thoroughly studied organisms in the world; far more is known about its genetics and behavior than about those of our own species. Brookes tackles his tiny subjects with an enthusiastic wit, sharing tales of his own and others' lab work dating back to the 19th century. As his story unfolds, the spirit of scientific investigation shines through, with all its reliance on blind chance and quirky obsessions.

Back in the late 1970's, extreme mutants were all the rage. Take a trip round a hip and happening fruit fly laboratory and you might have been forgiven for thinking that you had stumbled across a fruit fly house of horrors. In the search for new mutants, flies were being force-fed mutagenic chemicals and were leaving a trail of disfigured descendants in their wake.

The interested reader will get insight not just into the scientific process, but also into the life of the fly itself. Birth, death, mating, learning--just about every aspect of the creature's life has been documented meticulously, and that level of detail can't help but yield some juicy bits. Though we find their feeding habits distasteful and their courtship maddeningly complex, maybe flies aren't so different from us, after all. Brookes's enthusiasm is catching, and Fly will send readers running to their kitchens to catch a glimpse of these scientific superstars. --Rob Lightner

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