A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Stories in by Adam Rutherford

By Adam Rutherford

This is a narrative approximately you. it's the heritage of who you're and the way you got here to be. it really is certain to you, because it is to every of the a hundred billion glossy people who've ever drawn breath. however it can also be our collective tale, simply because in each of our genomes we each one hold the background of our species—births, deaths, ailment, warfare, famine, migration, and many sex.

in view that scientists first learn the human genome in 2001, it's been topic to all types of claims, counterclaims, and myths. in reality, as Adam Rutherford explains, our genomes could be learn no longer as guideline manuals, yet as epic poems. DNA determines some distance under we now have been resulted in think approximately us as members, yet tremendously extra approximately us as a species.

during this fascinating trip during the increasing panorama of genetics, Adam Rutherford finds what our genes now let us know approximately heritage, and what historical past tells us approximately our genes. From Neanderthals to homicide, from redheads to race, useless kings to plague, evolution to epigenetics, this can be a demystifying and illuminating new portrait of who we're and the way we got here to be.

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Extra info for A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Stories in Our Genes

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The DNA was chunked up into short fragments, and all profoundly damaged, as if recovering frayed tatters from a decrepit book. These bones were only 40,000 years old, in contrast to the more than 65-million-year-old resurrected dinosaurs12 of Jurassic Park, and already not in a terribly good state. The fact that Pääbo and his team got anything out is testament to the new-found skills of geneticists that were emerging in the shadow of the Human Genome Project. This was a baby step into deciphering and reconstructing the past in an entirely unprecedented way.

Many of the stories are tales of nations, populations, a few known through celebrity or inheritance of power, but most are the anonymous multitudes. We can pick through the bones of individual men, women and children who through sheer chance died in uncommon circumstances, and turned out to be the people whose lives we would scrutinize forensically because in the preservation of their death they inadvertently gave up their DNA to us. Biology is the study of what lives and therefore what dies. It’s messy – wonderfully, frustratingly so – and imprecise and defies definitions.

Instead, it is represented in graphical form as more of a set of upside down dribbly blobs running upwards into the pool that is us, streams, rivers and rivulets, some running into the ocean, others petering out en route (see overleaf). An alternative version is to place the specimens in their species clusters on a chart, oldest at the bottom, us the sole survivors at the top, the width showing the geography of where all the bones were found, and you must accept that the lines between them are dotted, meaning hypothetical.

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