In this masterful account, a historian of science surveys the molecular biology revolution, its origin and continuing impact.
Since the 1930s, a molecular vision has been transforming biology. Michel Morange provides an incisive and overarching history of this transformation, from the early attempts to explain organisms by the structure of their chemical components, to the birth and consolidation of genetics, to the latest technologies and discoveries enabled by the new science of life. Morange revisits A History of Molecular Biology and offers new insights from the past twenty years into his analysis.
The Black Box of Biology shows that what led to the incredible transformation of biology was not a simple accumulation of new results, but the molecularization of a large part of biology. In fact, Morange argues, the greatest biological achievements of the past few decades should still be understood within the molecular paradigm. What has happened is not the displacement of molecular biology by other techniques and avenues of research, but rather the fusion of molecular principles and concepts with those of other disciplines, including genetics, physics, structural chemistry, and computational biology. This has produced decisive changes, including the discoveries of regulatory RNAs, the development of massive scientific programs such as human genome sequencing, and the emergence of synthetic biology, systems biology, and epigenetics.
Original, persuasive, and breathtaking in its scope, The Black Box of Biology sets a new standard for the history of the ongoing molecular revolution.
A clear and engaging overview of all the major developments and their interrelations. This is a very useful book that should be read by all scientists and anyone interested in the study of the molecular basis of life.
Anyone with serious pretentions to understand what went on in the middle of the last century in the field of molecular biology—discovery of the double helix, genetic code, going on a few decades later to the sequencing of human genome, and the rise of evolutionary development, ‘evo-devo’—simply must read this book. It is comprehensive, well written (excellently translated by Matthew Cobb), and simply absorbing.
An important contribution to the big history of the molecular revolution and absolutely required reading for serious students of the huge impact it has had on biology.
Readable and enjoyable…Instead of seeing molecular biology as a theoretical program of molecular reductionism, we get a messy science with ambiguous experiments and tinkering scientists, enabling the reader to experience all the excitement and frustration that accompanied the hidden life of molecular biology.
Michel Morange is our finest guide to the dramatic rise of molecular biology and its persistence in our lives through genetic engineering. Brilliant, clear, and nuanced, The Black Box of Biology will become a classic in the field.
Morange’s re-elaboration of his 1998 masterpiece, A History of Molecular Biology, is a gift. Compelling and masterful in its command of contemporary biology, history, and philosophy, The Black Box of Biology is a key reference for grasping the scope and roots of human interventions in the biological world.
An original and expansive analysis of the history of molecular biology, from its origins to the rise of genomics and epigenetics. Unparalleled in its scope and insight, The Black Box of Biology should be required reading for historians and biologists seeking to understand the molecular transformation of modern biology.
Written by a historian of science trained in François Jacob’s laboratory, The Black Box of Biology weaves together the social, political, and scientific dimensions of the ‘molecular revolution’ into a compelling narrative and a fascinating read.
- 528 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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