Cells to Civilizations: The Principles of Change That Shape Life
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Cells to Civilizations: The Principles of Change That Shape Life

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  21 ratings  ·  4 reviews
"Cells to Civilizations" is the first unified account of how life transforms itself--from the production of bacteria to the emergence of complex civilizations. What are the connections between evolving microbes, an egg that develops into an infant, and a child who learns to walk and talk? Award-winning scientist Enrico Coen synthesizes the growth of living systems and crea...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published May 27th 2012 by Princeton University Press
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Maria Fuentes
I have to say that I get really excited when I start reading a book on evolutionary biology and my expectations tend to be too high. Enrico Coen, a plant biologist, begins with a really interesting and brilliant proposal of a unified theory in biology based on seven principles that consist of: population variation, persistence, reinforcement, competition, cooperation, combinatorial richness and recurrence. According to Coen, this "life's creative recipe", as he calls it, can be applied to explai...more
Martin Cohen
The novelty behind this book is tempting: Enrico Coen promises to present key debates in the area of evolutionary and biological science by reference to fine art. For example, the sixth century Chinese artist, Xie He identified six ingredients for painting. these are vitality, brushwork, natural form, colour, composition and copying. A picture by Mu Chi called Persimmons (which look a bit like tomatoes) illustrates the idea. Coen's suggestion is that the world around us can similarly be both und...more
This book is very scatological. One excerpt: "Our ability to communicate also plays a key role in cultural reinforcement. Through communication particular ideas and achievements can spread in a population. But what is disseminated also depends on what we value." And so on. What does this mean? The entire book is like this.

Even the acknowledgements is written in this style: "A tree trunk does not start bare, but becomes so by shedding many branches. This might seem wasteful - why produce branche...more
Kate Blumenthal
Coen identifies basic principles that are active in complex adaptive systems, from single cell organisms through human cultures. Reading this book helped me to organize and articulate many of my thoughts about systems, plus I learned a lot about development and learning as aspects of systems. I recommend for anyone interest in complexity and systems.
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