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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  29 ratings  ·  7 reviews
"Generation" is the story of the exciting, largely forgotten decade during the seventeenth century when a group of young scientists-Jan Swammerdam, the son of a Protestant apothecary, Nils Stensen (also known as Steno), a Danish anatomist who first discovered the human tear duct, Reinier de Graaf, the attractive and brilliant son of a rich and successful Catholic architect ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published December 1st 2008 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published 2006)
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Jul 28, 2007 Chelsea rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who did not spontaneously generate themselves
Kurt laughed at me for checking this book out from the Berkeley Public Library when I don't live in Northern California. And he was right to because I'll probably end up paying overdue fines/shipping costs enough to buy my own hardcover copy, but sometimes I see things in the library and get really excited and can't help myself.

I wished that this book was longer. It's jovial but clearly written by someone who has a soft spot for embryology/development. Whenever I read scientific papers that have
You mean women can't give birth to rabbits or kittens?

Only a few hundred years ago that was big news. So was the idea that insects reproduced at all. (People thought they just grew out of rotting meat.) It took a lot of work to figure this out and this book is the story of the men who were determined to do so.

You can't help but giggle at some of the theories that were proposed on the road to figuring out where we come from. Matthew Cobb tells the story with a great deal of intellectual wit and
Where does life come from? Until the 17th century, this question was answered with speculation and wild stories, including the concept of ‘spontaneous generation.’ In the 1660s and 70s, three scientists in the Netherlands were united by Leeuwenhoek’s invention of the powerful microscope. Despite their early discoveries in human and animal reproduction, generation still remained mysterious and controversial until well into the 19th century.
Because of my biology background, I wanted to like this more. I did find the first half of the book engaging, but I had to skim for the main ideas through the last half of the book because there was so much superfluous information and I had a hard time following Cobb's train of thought. As a scientist, I found the information about the beginnings and evolution of the scientific experiment process quite interesting.
It's not fair to the author that I read this very shortly after reading Sam Kean's great science history books (The Disappearing Spoon and The Violinist's Thumb). While the history is interesting, the author isn't the story-teller that Kean is. His style is dry and a bit stodgy. Still, I enjoyed the book. In the end, it gave me much food for thought on how young our scientific journey as humans really is.
very interesting and readable for a book on the history of scientific discovery. i was surprised at how much i enjoyed it.
fascinating so far.... you can't make scorpions by crushing a basil leaf between two rocks!
And interesting history of our understanding of generation (havin' babies) and the evolution of the scientific method.
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