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Discovering Cell Mechanisms: The Creation of Modern Cell Biology (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Biology) Paperback – Bargain Price, April 28, 2008

ISBN-10: 0521729440 Edition: 1st

3 New from $31.41 5 Used from $31.04
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Paperback, Bargain Price, April 28, 2008
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Editorial Reviews


“This volume...will be useful not only to cell biologists interested in the embryology of their field, but also to theorists and historians of science concerned with the boundaries of fields of intellectual inquiry.”

"For decades historians have been preoccupied with genetics and molecular biology. However, mitochondria, ribosomes, Golgi bodies, and lysosomes explain the life processes of the cell; DNA does so only peripherally. This is their much needed story."
-Douglas Allchin, Isis

"Historians will appreciate Bechtel's thorough research in the archives of the Rochefeller Foundation and the American Society for Cell Biology, as well as his use of oral history interviews with some of the principal scientists...Cell biologists especially welcome this new history of their field."
-Lindley Darden, University of Maryland, Journal of the History of Biology

Book Description

Between 1940 and 1970, pioneers in the new field of cell biology discovered the operative parts of cells and their contributions to cell life. William Bechtel emphasizes how mechanisms were discovered by cell biologists, focusing especially on the way in which new instrumentsNthe ultracentrifuge and the electron microscopeNmade these inquiries possible. He also describes how scientists organized new journals and professional societies to provide an institutional structure to the new enterprise.

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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Biology
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (April 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521729440
  • ASIN: B008W34UIK
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,227,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Bechtel provides a well-organized history of the development of modern cell biology (1940-1960). The critical struggles of the central minds involved in perfecting techniques, gathering new data, and interpreting that data is presented in an exceedingly clear manner. While I initially picked up the book to learn more about the history of the major discoveries in cell biology, I also appreciated Bechtel's philosophical considerations: one of his principal goals of the book is to use the subject as a case-study in mechanistic modes of thought in hopes of contributing to future efforts at advancing a modern mechanistic philosophy. Some may not sympathize with that particular agenda, but I think Bechtel sufficiently distinguishes between his commentary and the views of the scientists to make it worthwhile. Also worth noting is Bechtel's use of footnotes which seems to be in good proportion and offers the more assiduous reader occasional anecdotes and additional perspective.

Some basic background in biology (e.g., familiarity with major metabolic pathways, organelle structures and compositions) is presumed of the reader.
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