The Art of Genes: How Organisms Make Themselves

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OUP Oxford, Mar 4, 1999 - Science - 396 pages
'Coen's book is spiced with historic quotations and examples of plants' and animals' intriguing behaviour contains a wealth of interesting material Coen communicates his immense learning with a hundred appealing tales' Max Perutz How is a tiny fertilised egg able to turn itself into a human being? How can an acorn transform itself into an oak tree? Over the past twenty years there has been a revolution in biology. For the first time we have begun to understand how organisms make themselves. The Art of Genes gives an account of these new and exciting findings, and of their broader significance for how we view ourselves. Through a highly original synthesis of science and art, Enrico Coen vividly describes this revolution in our understanding of how plants and animals develop. Drawing on a wide range of examples–from flowers growing petals instead of sex organs, and flies that develop an extra pair of wings, to works of art by Leonardo and Magritte–he explains in lively, accessible prose the language and meaning of genes. 'I would have loved this book at 16, and so should anyone–aged 16 to 60–who really wants to understand development.' John Maynard Smith, Nature

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Painting a picture
Copying and creating
A question of interpretation
A case of mistaken identity
The internal world of colour
Evolution of locks and keys
The hidden skeleton
The expanding canvas
Responding to the environment
Elaborating on asymmetry
Beneath the surface
Themes and variations
Shifting forms
The story of colour
The art of Heath Robinson
Sources of quotations

Refining a pattern
Creative reproduction
Scents and sensitivities

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About the author (1999)

Research Scientist in Genetics Department, John Innes Centre, Norwich. Made honorary Professor in Biology at University of East Anglia, 1997. Fellow of Royal Society (1998), Fellow of Linnean Society (1997). Awards: Science for Art Prize; EMBO Medal (1996), Linnean Gold Medal (1997).

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