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Secret Chambers [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Martin Brasier

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31. Mai 2012
In the follow up to Darwin's Lost World, Martin Brasier book introduces the quest for the missing history of life and the cell. Through a series of journeys it emerges that the modern plant cell is one of the most deeply puzzling and unlikely steps in the whole history of life. Decoding this puzzle is a great adventure that has mainly taken place over the last half century. Brasier puts the big questions into context through lively descriptions of his explorations around the world, from the Caribbean Sea and the Egyptian pyramids, to the shores of the great lakes in Canada, andto the reefs and deserts of Australia. Covering the period from 1 to 2 billion years ago - a period he once dubbed 'the boring billion' - he demonstrates how it in fact involved great evolutionary potential with the formation of the complex (eukaryotic) cell. Without this cell there would be nothing on Earth today except bacteria, and the formation of this cell was a fundamental turning point in the history of life on Earth. Weaving together several threads, Brasier emphasises the importance of single-celled forms to marine ecosystems; symbiosis and coral reefs; and the architecture and beauty of single-celled Foraminifera and what they tell us about evolution. From a master storyteller comes a vivid description of the earliest biological forms and a set of fascinating tales of travels and research.

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Bursting with almost boyish enthusiasm, Brasier takes us on an adventure with lively vignettes from his career. Henry Nicholls, New Scientist

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Martin Brasier is an English paleontologist made known from his study of microfossils, the Origin of Life, and Precambrian fossils such as the Ediacara biota. He is Professor of Palaeobiology at the University of Oxford. He has worked on the Cambrian Explosion and was leader of the UN 's IGCP project on defining the Cambrian geological period. His own book on the subject, Darwin's Lost World: The hidden history of animal life was published in 2009 as part of the Charles Darwin centenary. In 2014 Martin Brasier was awarded the Lyell Medal by the Geological Society for outstanding research contributions.

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.0 von 5 Sternen  2 Rezensionen
10 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen much story with facts sprinkled in 5. Juli 2012
Von Gary Odom - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This book is a mishmash; combining history, anecdotes, facts, and the adventures of the author. The facts are often explained by analogy; a very difficult way to learn something with any sense of accuracy.

I dislike such books, as I get bored with the stories (the history retelling is rather scatter shot in this book), and can never find my way back to some fact, as the book's organization does not allow it (the section titles are story based).

If you like reading non-fiction books for storytelling, with some interesting tidbits thrown in, this may be a book for you. If you want to learn much of anything about cellular biology, the supposed subject of this book, read something else.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen a thoughtful exposition through narrative 25. September 2012
Von Nigel Kirk - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This is a readable, if initially patchy, account of early biological evolution, strung together through a narrative of the author's career travels.

In early chapters the comparison of a cell to an ocean-going vessel is laid on a little thick as metaphors like "lapses in procedure" and the "Chartroom" tend to confuse the real information about cell biology, even to the point that the writer incorrectly terms DNA as a binary code (p 48). The narrative, tracing the evolution of cell organelles and subsequently of more complex life, is punctuated by references to "secrets" in order to allow the author to further convey tales of discovery. This is mainly enjoyable, if a little old school. A 1970s survey of the Sargasso Sea negotiates turbulent waters while hinting at possible ways that the nucleus and organelles are integrated into eukaryote cells, an underwater reef is charted while explanations of symbiotic mechanisms are recounted. Further chapters trace growing evidence of global warming and then the narrative also warms as the author introduces the great Lynn Margulis, pulling together the cell symbiosis theory of organelles in the chapter, The Mangrove Tree. Further accounts of science reveal the human side of discovery, from mistakes, hard work to apparent fraud, all portrayed warmly and reminiscent of Stephen Jay Gould's Wonderful Life. Some of the author's observations of Australia, in particular of water management practice, irked me slightly as supercilious, however his rendition of the landscape, characters and geology, again, compensate. Ironically, the Australian landscape tested the author's own water management credentials, almost tragically.

This review is not an attempt to flag all of the intriguing topics this book covers but rather to convey its flavour. The author is a fine story teller with any hint of rambling compensated for by good exposition of evolutionary biology, and facilitated by geographical and biographical raconteuring. His final chapter rounds off the `boring billions' hypothesis that he teased out throughout the book. But it is his "efficiency is fatal" corollary, told through an odd "Albert and Emily" story, which provides elegant and credible conjecture on the less considered risks to future human evolution, which wins Secret Chambers five stars.
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