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Time, Love, Memory: A Great Biologist and His Quest for the Origins of Behavior Paperback – April 4, 2000


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Time, Love, Memory: A Great Biologist and His Quest for the Origins of Behavior + The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time + Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (April 4, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679763902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679763901
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #562,055 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the words of Jonathan Weiner, "Time, love, and memory are ... three cornerstones of the pyramid of behavior." While some find it difficult to view humans as mere machines, molecular biologists maintain that most behavior is genetically based. Even skeptics and opponents agree that molecular biology may well change the way we all live in the 21st century. Little-known outside this exploding field, Seymour Benzer, his mentors, and his generations of students have studied the common fruit fly, Drosophila, and discovered genes that seem to have some influence upon our internal clock, our sexuality, and our ability to learn from our experiences.

Weiner (whose last book, The Beak of the Finch, won a Pulitzer Prize) has written an affectionate history about the development of the science while offering charming glimpses of the people involved--trading haircuts to stretch their grant money in the early years, roaming the laboratory into the wee hours, naming the genes associated with learning after Pavlov's dogs. It's not all sweetness and light, however; ethical questions are raised, some of the hype (and hysteria) surrounding the human genome project is dissipated, and the complicated "clockwork" gene "looks less like an invitation to human intervention and more like a cautionary tale or object lesson for anyone who might try, in the 21st century, to improve on nature's four-billion-year-old designs." That said, the scientists in Weiner's tale reveal a very human side of this fast-moving science, and their belief that they'll find answers to important questions is contagious and compelling. As Benzer himself said, "It's a wonderful, fabulous world, and it's been kicking around a long time." --C.B. Delaney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

From the winner of the 1995 Pulitzer for nonfiction (for The Beak of the Finch) comes a vigorously engrossing scientific biography that brings out from the shadows one of the unsung pioneers of molecular biology: brash, eccentric, Brooklyn-born California Institute of Technology physicist-turned-biologist Seymour Benzer. In 1953Athe year Francis Crick and James Watson discovered the structure of DNAABenzer, then at Purdue, invented a way to use viral DNA to map the interior of a gene. Benzer's mapping techniques would help Crick crack the genetic code in the early 1960s. Forsaking viruses and E. coli bacteria for the fruit fly, in the mid-1960s, Benzer began tracking tiny genetic mutations in scores of generations passing through his contraptionAa maze of test-tube tunnels with a light source to which the flies instinctively gravitated. With his wife, neuropathologist Carol Miller, Benzer discovered that the fly brain and the human brain surprisingly share nearly identical genetic sequences. Today their fellow scientists, using mutant fruit flies or mice, attempt to throw light on the genetic coding of memory, learning, courtship, sex assignment, disease and aging. An unresolved question hangs over this enterprise: Will solid links between genes and human behavior ever be established? Weiner answers with a cautious "yes" in this elegantly written scientific detective story told with panache and great lucidity. Benzer, a free spirit with a taste for crashing Hollywood funerals and eating strange food (filet of snake, crocodile tail), may lack the charisma of his Caltech colleague, the late physicist Richard Feynman, but, through Weiner's absorbing presentation, his unorthodox ways in and out of the laboratory will grow on readers. 50 illustrations. Agent, Victoria Pryor. BOMC dual main selection; first serial to the New Yorker.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Jonathan Weiner is one of the most distinguished popular-science writers in the country: his books have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Slate, Time, The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, The New Republic, Scientific American, Smithsonian, and many other newspapers and magazines, and he is a former editor at The Sciences. His books include The Beak of the Finch; Time, Love, Memory; and His Brother's Keeper. He lives in New York, where he teaches science writing at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

Customer Reviews

Whoever you are, read this book.
Stephen A. Haines
I was given this book, a young Biology student, by my Genetics unit professor in the basic Biology undergrad course.
Jekyll9
Written in clear, lively prose, this book is a great introduction to genetic research.
Jay Ackroyd

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is a work of art. It has everything! It is not just a great book about an unsung hero in science. It is a suspenseful story (will they or won't they discover the genes for time, love, and memory?), a touching story (Seymour Benzer is a character--a real character that is--you will remember forever), and an important story (all the headlines of a gene for this kind of behavior, a gene for that kind of behavior: This is the real story, the science behind the headlines). You might not think a serious book about science is a good summer book, but it is! Take it to the beach, the mountains, wherever you go--or read it at home. You will not be sorry. Your life will be greatly enriched. I loved The Beak of the Finch (which won the Pulitzer). I love this book even more.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Richard S. Sullivan on January 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
... This is a great book by the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Beak of the Finch. It moves right along and was a cliff hanger, it kept me on the edge of my seat waiting to see which next of my cherised beliefs was going to dashed in the name of science.
...
If you think that human nature is largely a result of nurture and you wish to hang on to this belief for dear life, be very afraid, this is not your book.
The book is well written with lots of interviews and original research by the author who already has proven his chops as a science writer. If biology, evolution or genetics is an interest, this is your book.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
There is so much about genes in the news these days, especially how they affect our behavior, our personality, etc. A lot of the headlines are overblown--"popularizations" of the science. If you want to really know the connection between genes and behavior--and the remarkable scientists who are figuring it out, read Time, Love, Memory. It explains it all so simply and clearly that you can actually explain it to others (a feat for me since I did not take any science courses beyond the requirements Freshman year of college!). Plus Mr. Weiner is obviously an incredibly well-read person because he pulls in all kinds of things from literature, poetry, and myth. These references illuminate the science, bringing it home, so to speak, so that you can really draw the parallels between flies and human beings, between science and literature. I loved The Beak of the Finch and I adore this book. Time, Love, Memory just won the National Book Critics Circle Award, I understand. It deserved it, and it deserves to be read--and enjoyed--by all. Bravo! I can't wait for the next one by this talented writer.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Seeing genetic-related stories constantly cropping up in the news, my curiosity was sparked and had to be sated. I'm not sure why I chose this book, but I'm certainly glad that I did. Not only does this book provide the reader with more than a surface view of the science, it offers a history of the players (what characters!) and classic anecdotes (flies sometimes learn better if you cut their heads off). Most interestingly though, it provides a glimpse of what may be to come. Cloning? Big deal, what about curing genetic flaws, creating designer children, etc. Its a brave new world, and this book shows you why. The best thing that I can say about this book is that it makes you feel as though you know what is going on behind what seemed to be closed doors. And it is very entertaining.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We used this book in our into-biology courses at the University of Minnesota, Morris. I have read several other fascinating historical accounts about the eve of molecular biology (Luria's 'A Slot Machine...' and Cairn's classic 'Phage and the Origins of Molecular Biology'. Weiner perhaphs captures this exciting period in the development of Biology with more flare, making it a great read. True, there are a few slow parts of the book, but this is what science is often all about right? The calm before the storm!
Anyway, if you are looking at insights into this period of the development of molecular biology and the way it has defined the fields of the life-sciences, look no further than this book.
Enjoy!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on August 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Far, far back in time, a group of molecules, tangled in crystals of clay, learned the trick of replication. Over time, joined by other molecules of similar talent, they grew complex, finally forming organisms. Seeking food, needing rest, hiding from hungry fellows, developing sex as an offshoot of replication skills, patterns of activity emerged - behaviour. The molecules altered form as external environment changed. Successful changes were kept, while others were left inert in storage. None were discarded, and those controlling basic body structure and fundamental behaviour patterns remained intact across the wide span of living things. After over 3 billion years of life traversing this path, one of the organisms set out to determine how it all worked.
Jonathan Weiner's relation of a century of research teasing into view DNA's mechanisms for guiding behaviour is a brilliant piece of science writing. His focus is Seymour Benzer and his research team studied flies, recording how changing conditions modified conduct. It became clear that 'dumb' animals could adapt through learning. Not only adapt, but retain memories to repeat the new behaviour when needed. By the end of the 20th Century, the research began to identify where along the structure of DNA the operational level of these behaviour codes resided. As often as not a single 'letter' change in the gene was found to trigger the change. More immediately, the information revealed in fruit flies was repeated in other animals. Duplicating the finds in mammals has overwhelming implications for humans.
Weiner's account is forcefully presented in a clear, direct style. This book is a supreme example science writing at its very summit. He offer no judgements of his own.
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