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A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  171 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
A biography of the Nobel Prize-winning scientist explains her work in genetics and traces her long unheralded career as a research scientist.
Paperback, 235 pages
Published February 15th 1984 by W. H. Freeman (first published July 1983)
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For Ada Lovelace day this year, I decided to read a book about a female scientist with whom I wasn't familiar. After some searchin--in which I discovered that nearly every book I could find about Maria Mitchell, the first prominent female astronomer was for kids--I settled on Barbara McClintock, a pioneering geneticist and cytologist who worked from the 1920s into the 1980s. Some thoughts:

* Keller does a nice job oscillating between discussion of McClintock's work and summaries of the concepts
Bob Nichols
Dec 19, 2015 rated it liked it
In the view of the neo-Darwinians, evolution results from natural selection acting on random mutation. In contrast, Keller writes of Barbara McClintock, “that the genetic apparatus is more labile and flexible than the central dogma allowed.” “[I]f genetic elements were subject to a system of regulation and control that involved their rearrangement,” Keller writes of this difference between McClintock and the neo-Darwinians, “what meaning was then left to the notion of the gene as a fixed, unchan ...more
Sonya Huber
Mar 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: scientists and artists
Quotes I love---

"The word 'understanding' and the particular meaning she attributed to it, is the cornerstone of Barbara McClintock's entire approach to science. For her, the smallest details provided the keys to the larger whole. It was her conviction that the closer her focus, the greater her attention to individual detail, to the unique characteristics of a single plant, of a single kernel, of a single chromosome, the more she could learn about the general principles by which the maize plant
Oct 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone who has at least a little knowledge of biology and genetics
This book is an insightful journey into the life and work of an accomplished scientist, and does a great job of showing the challenges McClintock faced for being a radical thinker—one who explored her subject to a depth and with an intuition unlike that of any of her peers, and who explained her discoveries in such exhaustive detail that others had difficulty following it. McClintock's life and work spanned most of the 20th century. I vaguely recognized her discoveries from my college biology an ...more
Katie/Doing Dewey
Mar 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Barbara McClintock was a brilliant female scientist, unwilling to settle for a “woman’s job” teaching when she was clearly cut out for research. Her intelligence and insight eventually put her discoveries so far ahead of the rest of her field that it took decades for her to receive the recognition she deserved. In this biography, we learn about both her struggles as a women in science and the details of her Nobel prize winning research.

Read more here....
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-school
THE biography of Barbara McClintock, the geneticist who won the Nobel prize in 1983 at the age of 82, forty years after her pioneering chromosomal work on gene transportation, working with maize plants in Cold HArbor Labs, Long Island.
Nov 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-group, biography
I really like learning about woman who overcome and make a name for themselves. Science is a difficult place for woman and she did a lot for biology!
Aug 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
What an amazing book and woman. Keller's treatment of her life is true to McClintock's science and her personality. Absolutely fabulous.
Lena Webb
Aug 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Will gave me this book for my 19th birthday and now I am a PhD student working in a Drosophila genetics lab.

Will's pretty canny.
...why it doesn't matter what conventional science thinks... you may be decades ahead...
Feb 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: scientists
Recommended to amanda by: Dr. Lynn Clark
Fantastic biography of Barbara McClintock, the discoverer of transposons.
Nov 06, 2011 added it
This book is definitely for the scientific mind. It provides a look into the world of science.
Jul 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great book.

Amazing scientist.
Apr 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
this book literally changed my life. i'm reading it again :)
Maria Mosley
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantastic
Barbara McClintock has been a role model of mine since high school, and reading this book has made her even more of a personal hero. Keller's biography started out fine but a little slow (covering McClintock's childhood and such), but once she began to discuss the molecular revolution in biology and set the stage for the discovery of transposable elements, I couldn't put the book down! This book even had me laughing out loud, such as when McClintock described fashion as "decorating the torso." M ...more
Vijay Akhade
Aug 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Story of a Maverick.. How one draws strength from within. Few lines from the book worth to be thought: Tacit assumptions - an implicit adherence to models prevents people from looking at data with a fresh mind. These tacit assumptions impose unconscious boundaries between what is thinkable and what is not. Even glaring lapses of logic become invisible. Theories and models come and go!!!
Doris Raines
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
I. Like. This. Book.
Jun 30, 2015 marked it as to-read
As seen on Science Book a Day:
Jaime Wright
Mar 21, 2015 rated it liked it
An example of a "mystic" scientist within the field of biology. I read this because I am interested in the interface of mysticism and scientific methods.
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Evelyn Fox Keller (born 1936) is an American physicist, author, and feminist and is currently a Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Keller has also taught at New York University and in the department of rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley.

Keller received her B.A. in physics from Brandeis University in 1957 and continued her st
More about Evelyn Fox Keller...

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