Book ID: CBB524896787

A Dominant Character: The Radical Science and Restless Politics of J. B. S. Haldane (2020)


Subramanian, Samanth (Author)

W. W. Norton & Co.

Publication Date: 2020
Physical Details: 416
Language: English

A biography of J. B. S. Haldane, the brilliant and eccentric British scientist whose innovative predictions inspired Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.J. B. S. Haldane’s life was rich and strange, never short on genius or drama―from his boyhood apprenticeship to his scientist father, who first instilled in him a devotion to the scientific method; to his time in the trenches during the First World War, where he wrote his first scientific paper; to his numerous experiments on himself, including inhaling dangerous levels of carbon dioxide and drinking hydrochloric acid; to his clandestine research for the British Admiralty during the Second World War. He is best remembered as a geneticist who revolutionized our understanding of evolution, but his peers hailed him as a polymath. One student called him “the last man who might know all there was to be known.”He foresaw in vitro fertilization, peak oil, and the hydrogen fuel cell, and his contributions ranged over physiology, genetics, evolutionary biology, mathematics, and biostatistics. He was also a staunch Communist, which led him to Spain during the Civil War and sparked suspicions that he was spying for the Soviets. He wrote copiously on science and politics in newspapers and magazines, and he gave speeches in town halls and on the radio―all of which made him, in his day, as famous in Britain as Einstein. It is the duty of scientists to think politically, Haldane believed, and he sought not simply to tell his readers what to think but to show them how to think.Beautifully written and richly detailed, Samanth Subramanian’s A Dominant Character recounts Haldane’s boisterous life and examines the questions he raised about the intersections of genetics and politics―questions that resonate even more urgently today. 12 illustrations

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Authors & Contributors
Lusito, Fabio
Hill-Andrews, Oliver
Weindling, Paul
McRae, Kenneth D
Subramaniam, Banu
Schubring, Gert
Journal of the History of Biology
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Social Studies of Science
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Histoire & Mesure
Oxford University Press
Fondazione Museo Storico del Trentino
Walker & Company
Johns Hopkins University
World War II
Science and politics
Experiments and experimentation
Human experimentation
Haldane, John Burdon Sanderson
Mayr, Ernst
Thompson, E.P.
Radice, Lucio Lombardo
Simon, Franz
Hogben, Lancelot Thomas
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
21st century
20th century, early
18th century
Early modern
Great Britain
United States
Prussia (Germany)
South Africa
Great Britain. Royal Air Force

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