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The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence Mass Market Paperback – December 12, 1986
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From the Inside Flap
Dr. Carl Sagan takes us on a great reading adventure, offering his vivid and startling insight into the brain of man and beast, the origin of human intelligence, the function of our most haunting legends--and their amazing links to recent discoveries.
"A history of the human brain from the big bang, fifteen billion years ago, to the day before yesterday...It's a delight."
THE NEW YORK TIMES
About the Author
Carl Sagan served as the David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. He played a leading role in the Mariner, Viking, Voyager, and Galileo spacecraft expeditions, for which he received the NASA Medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and (twice) for Distinguished Public Service.
His Emmy- and Peabody–winning television series, Cosmos, became the most widely watched series in the history of American public television. The accompanying book, also called Cosmos, is one of the bestselling science books ever published in the English language. Dr. Sagan received the Pulitzer Prize, the Oersted Medal, and many other awards—including twenty honorary degrees from American colleges and universities—for his contributions to science, literature, education, and the preservation of the environment. In their posthumous award to Dr. Sagan of their highest honor, the National Science Foundation declared that his “research transformed planetary science . . . his gifts to mankind were infinite." Dr. Sagan died on December 20, 1996.
Top customer reviews
This text combines anthro, bio, and history in such a way as to be quite persuasive. However, if you're just looking for a synthesis it's very easy to skip the in-depth terms for the skeleton and evolution without missing the bigger picture. I gave it 5 stars because it IS an academic text, but the ease of reading is great for the lay person.
Carl tells us human brain evolution, brain anatomy and physiology are not his specialty field but he is going to tackle the subject and try to write so the layman can understand it. As usual he succeeds putting a complex subject down on paper for the less educated to be able to understand. He was a master at this.
In college I had a Paleontology course and did a paper on the evolution of the horse. I enjoyed the course and it may have helped me enjoy this book more.
Carl starts with a Cosmic year calender of the universe and we see man has only been on earth since Dec 31. We see good arguments by Carl on the agreement of the Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin and useful genetic information and survival traits passed to future generations as individuals with good traits survive and reproduce while others with less desirable traits die and their genetic information is not passed on. DNA and RNA are explained as well as simple organisms to more complex organisms. Much time is spend on the higher primates, hand structure, and tool using. Also the different parts of the brain are shown and how information is transferred to different parts of the brain. Cases of people with Epilepsy, brain injuries and brain operations are shown and how memory, thought and intelligence are affected. Brain size is shown in different organisms and degrees of intelligence is shown. Fascinating stuff.
Eventually Carl gets down to ET life and contacting them and the use of intelligent machines. You can tell the amount of digital computers was very small when this book was written and some of what was presented is now outdated but Carl did say computer power and the amount of computers would increase drastically. Interesting Viking Mars spacecraft computing power is mentioned and we can see how outdated that computing power now is.
Many interesting pictures from around the world as well as simple verses from great authors. A gigantic bibliography is there for you to get more information.
You don't have to have a PHD in Paleontology or an MD on brain anatomy to enjoy this book. The master Carl Sagan has again wrote this book so people can understand a difficult subject. Sadly in 1996 Carl Sagan passed away. The world misses a great astronomer, scientist, writer and a great man. We never met and did not know one another. As an amateur astronomer of over 40 years I considered him my friend and had the utmost respect for him.
The Dragons of Eden another great book by Carl Sagan. 5 stars