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Genetics For Dummies, 2nd Edition Paperback – 16 Apr 2010
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From the Back Cover
A plain–English guide to this fascinating topic
Want to know more about genetics? This practical guide gets you up to speed on all the fundamentals and the most recent discoveries. From dominant and recessive inherited traits to the DNA double helix, you get clear explanations in easy–to–understand terms. Plus, you′ll see how people are applying genetic science to fight disease, develop new products, solve crimes . . . and even clone cats.
Jump into genetics get the 411 on how genetic information is divvied up during cell division and how trait inheritance works
Dig into DNA discover how your DNA is put together, how it gets copied, and how the building plans for your body are encoded in the double helix
Toast to health understand how genetics affects your health and get the lowdown on the latest developments in genetic counseling, inherited diseases, genetics and cancer, and chromosome disorders
Get in the know learn about the impact of genetics on hot topics like population genetics, evolution, forensics, cloning, ethical issues, and more
Open the book and find:
The basics of cell biology
The laws of inheritance
A plain–English explanation of traits
The genetics of sex
How DNA is replicated
A tour of the double helix
The genetics of diseases
How gene therapy can treat genetic diseases
The use of DNA to solve crimes
Controversial topics in genetics
Grasp the latest developments in genetics
Understand the latest on stem cell research
Get up to speed on molecular genetics, genetic counseling, and more
Explore ethical issues as they apply to genetics
About the Author
Tara Rodden Robinson, PhD, is an Instructor of Genetics, Extended Campus, at Oregon State University. Previously, she worked as an instructor and Postdoctoral Fellow in Genetics at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama.
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The book is broadly divided into four broad sections. The first deals with a very basic introduction to the cell and the rules of heredity as far as they had been inferred before the identification of DNA as the determinant of heredity, and the molecular carrier of the instructions for building all living systems. The second section is the one I personally found the most absorbing. This describes, to a basic level, the exquisite biochemical machinery responsible for the replication, that is copying, of DNA that underlies the development of the embryo, growth and the constant process of cellular repair and replacement that we are undergoing every moment of our lives. It then goes on to explain how the information stored in DNA is organised into genes and alleles, and how more exquisite machines transcribe the information in those genes into messenger RNA; how that RNA is processed and, to a very simplistic level, the mechanisms by which messenger RNA is decoded to construct the roughly couple of million proteins that constitute the machinery of (human) life.
The third section is devoted to the health implications of genetic science, covering topics such as inherited disease, the darkly beautiful world of viruses, from the common cold to HIV, and that catastrophic consequence of genetics gone wrong, cancer. It may be that many people coming to this book will be those unfortunate enough to be living with such conditions or their loved ones, who are wanting to gain a layperson's insight into the biology of these illnesses. There is also a passing mention of where things stand in relation to the promise of future gene therapies. The fourth section is devoted to the wider social implications of genetic science, covering issues such as cloning, forensics and the law, GM foods, stem-cell research, etc. It is my opinion that anyone who thinks they have strong opinions on these matters should have at least the basic scientific grounding that a book like this provides. Anything less amounts, in my view, to little more than superstition.
To those disappointed reviewers who found the book too difficult I would say the following. Technical topics can only be simplified so far. New words or jargon are legitimately coined in order to use one word in order to avoid having to repeat the same three, four or ten words. If one finds that one is reading but no longer feels they understand what is being said, then the trick is to go back to the last place where one did feel they knew what was going on. Then move forward slowly until finding the exact sentence at which befuddlement begins. Then think a bit. Try and consider all the possible things the difficult sentence might mean, and then try and think, on the basis of what you have read before the one correct meaning the sentence must have. If this doesn't work, then go back to the beginning of the paragraph, or section, or chapter, or the whole book. This applies to any kind of technical reading, whether a layperson's introduction or the most abstruse scholarly paper. If this process does not work then the book is badly written. If jargon is introduced without being defined then the book is badly written. If it has though then it is up to the reader to keep reminding themselves of the meanings of new words until they have become familiar. The whole point of the For Dummies series is that the have been tested out on typical readers and corrected until the determined reader has been given everything they need to fully comprehend the contents. I honestly think that this book is fit for that purpose.
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