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Too tiny to see with the naked eye, the human embryo was just a hypothesis until the microscope made observation of embryonic development possible. This changed forever our view of the minuscule cluster of cells that looms large in questions about the meaning of life. Embryos under the Microscope examines how our scientific understanding of the embryo has evolved from the earliest speculations of natural philosophers to today's biological engineering, with its many prospects for life-enhancing therapies. Jane Maienschein shows that research on embryos has always revealed possibilities that appear promising to some but deeply frightening to others, and she makes a persuasive case that public understanding must be informed by up-to-date scientific findings.Direct observation of embryos greatly expanded knowledge but also led to disagreements over what investigators were seeing. Biologists confirmed that embryos are living organisms undergoing rapid change and are not in any sense functioning persons. They do not feel pain or have any capacity to think until very late stages of fetal development. New information about DNA led to discoveries about embryonic regulation of genetic inheritance, as well as evolutionary relationships among species. Scientists have learned how to manipulate embryos in the lab, taking them apart, reconstructing them, and even synthesizing--practically from scratch--cells, body parts, and maybe someday entire embryos. Showing how we have learned what we now know about the biology of embryos, Maienschein changes our view of what it means to be alive.
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Maienschein explores the scientific, cultural, legal and philosophical history of embryos. This is a big task for a single book, but she does a thorough job Embryos Under the Microscope" made me appreciate the phenomenally complex chain of events by which a person or animal develops. It really is amazing that any of us exist at all.--Linda Geddes"New Scientist" (05/03/2014)" Maienschein examines research on human embryos, correcting misconceptions spread in popular media by citing scientific studies as well as her own experience as a biologist Maienschein also addresses stem cells as well as scientific efforts to dismantle, reconstruct, and synthesize embryos. Drawing from a vast body of her own scientific research and that of other scientists, the author makes the case that the general public must be educated about human embryos and kept apprised of current research Recommended for anyone who wants to learn about human embryos and how investigation on them affects society.--Tina Chan"Library Journal" (06/15/2014)" Many labs around the world aim to harness the power of human embryonic stem cells to restore function to degenerating tissues. The public reaction to such regenerative therapies is a mixture of excitement, fear and confusion. Maienschein sifts the hope from the hype, setting out what is currently possible and where the technical and ethical limits lie...Her book helps us to navigate a path through this dizzying rhetoric by presenting us with a view of embryonic development that is both clear-headed and captivating.--Sally Lowell"Times Higher Education" (06/19/2014) Maienschein examines research on human embryos, correcting misconceptions spread in popular media by citing scientific studies as well as her own experience as a biologist... Maienschein also addresses stem cells as well as scientific efforts to dismantle, reconstruct, and synthesize embryos. Drawing from a vast body of her own scientific research and that of other scientists, the author makes the case that the general public must be educated about human embryos and kept apprised of current research... Recommended for anyone who wants to learn about human embryos and how investigation on them affects society.--Tina Chan"Library Journal" (06/15/2014) Maienschein explores the scientific, cultural, legal and philosophical history of embryos. This is a big task for a single book, but she does a thorough job...Embryos Under the Microscope made me appreciate the phenomenally complex chain of events by which a person or animal develops. It really is amazing that any of us exist at all.--Linda Geddes"New Scientist" (05/03/2014) A balanced combination of history and science. We track the thoughts of philosophers Aristotle and Descartes; follow the development of modern experimental embryology by scientists such as Frank Lillie; and examine the twentieth- and twenty-first-century focus on understanding the molecular and genetic contribution of the sperm, egg and embryo to the offspring. Through this, Maienschein...interweaves the science of embryology and the many controversies that it continues to spark...Maienschein covers broad territory with surprising depth and concision. It seems unlikely that a more readable text will soon emerge to illuminate the journey from theory to observation to ethical considerations in this exciting science.--Renee Reijo Pera"Nature" (05/08/2014) Many labs around the world aim to harness the power of human embryonic stem cells to restore function to degenerating tissues. The public reaction to such regenerative therapies is a mixture of excitement, fear and confusion. Maienschein sifts the hope from the hype, setting out what is currently possible and where the technical and ethical limits lie Her book helps us to navigate a path through this dizzying rhetoric by presenting us with a view of embryonic development that is both clear-headed and captivating.--Sally Lowell"Times Higher Education" (06/19/2014)"

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