Monday, January 27, 2014

Like a Virgin - by Aarathi Prasad

I had a bit of trouble concentrating while I was reading this one, not because of the sexual subject matter, but rather because it gave me an earworm. Much as I like Madonna, hearing the refrain of one song over and over in my head was pretty distracting.

This was a fascinating book though, explaining how different organisms reproduce, including those who do so asexually. Discussions of cloning mammals, and advances in fertility treatments demonstrate that a human virgin birth is probably not far outside the realm of possibility, perhaps in the very near future.

There were also two noteworthy things for the "Library Books" blog. One mention that the sequencing of human DNA "has provided a library of essential biological information". If there had been nothing else in this book to blog about here, it might not have even gotten an entry, but in addition to libraries in books, any time I find information about banned books I have to comment. Book banning is a time-honored tradition, which appears to go back as long as there have been books. I can even imagine Neanderthals chipping away someone else's cave drawings in order to put up a "more accurate" or even "less offensive" version of events. The banned book in question here is Aristotle's Masterpiece, or, The Works of Aristotle. This book was, in fact, not written by Aristotle, but includes some of his ideas, as well as others', and was banned in the UK from the 18th through the mid 20th century, when it became available in 1960.

The book includes descriptions of midwifery, female reproductive organs, and all things related to sex and embryos...In the United States...[it] was much more accepted. Until the middle of the nineteenth century, it was the most commonly read medical text-despite the arrival of new microscopes, dissection tables, and complex experimentation, which completely contradicted the book's depictions of the workings of reproduction.
Never let science get in the way of education. Such things are still taking place today as creationists make their religious viewpoints the focal points of science classes, even in public schools.

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