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February 17th, 2009 · No Comments · Ages 0-2, Ages 2-3, Books, City Library, Grades 3-5, Grades K-2, News

Digital BiologyAs librarians, one of our responsibilities is to manage the items in the collection. We have to decide if a book is too damaged, too outdated, or not popular enough to keep. It’s not the most anticipated chore around here, but it is necessary, and one of the benefits is you find some cool stuff that you mightn’t otherwise. Serendipity, if you will.

I’ve been going through some of our Biology books and found a few that are worth a second look:

Digital Biology: How Nature is Transforming our Technology and our Lives by Peter J. Bentley
From the bookjacket:

Imagine a future world where computers can create universes — digital environments made from binary ones and zeros. Imagine that within these universes there exist biological forms that reproduce, grow, and think. Imagine plantlike forms, ant colonies, immune systems, and brains, all adapting, evolving, and getting better at solving problems. Imagine if our computers became greenhouses for a new kind of nature. Just think what digital biology could do for us. Perhaps it could evolve new designs for us, think up ways to detect fraud using digital neurons, or solve scheduling problems with ants. Perhaps it could detect hackers with immune systems or create music from the patterns of growth of digital seashells. Perhaps it would allow our computers to become creative and inventive. Now stop imagining.

Life Itself: Exploring the Realm of the Living Cell by Boyce Rensberger
A New York Times 1997 Book of the Year From the NY Times review by David Papineau:

How could an assemblage of merely physical parts perform such sophisticated tasks, let alone construct itself unaided from a single cell? It is little wonder that as recently as a century ago most scientists believed that living matter was animated by a special force, an elan vital that added meaning and purpose to the dumb matter in our bodies.

Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo by Sean B. Carroll
From the Amazon Review:

“Every animal form is the product of two processes–development from an egg and evolution from its ancestors,” writes Sean B. Carroll in his introduction to Endless Forms Most Beautiful. The new science of “evo devo”–or evolutionary developmental biology–examines the relationships between those two processes, embryonic development and evolutionary changes, despite their radically different time scales.

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