Tuesday, October 31, 2006

WLA 2006: Banta winner featured in Magazine

Way to go, Sean Carroll! His book, Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo, is this year's WLA Banta winner, and he'll be speaking here in the Dells on Thursday. So how cool is it that he happens to be featured in the latest issue of National Geographic?

The 25-page article by Carl Zimmer is called "A Fin is a Limb is a Wing: How Evolution Fashioned its Masterworks," and Carroll is one of several developmental biologists interviewed about the fascinating similarities between the cellular structures of all living organisms - from the tiny fruit fly to human beings. (We all have more in common than anyone ever imagined, Carroll asserts). The article also includes some of Carroll's images, not to mention some pretty amazing photographs.

I was priviliged to serve on the Literary Commitee that ranked Endless Forms Most Beautiful (the title is taken from Darwin's Origin of the Species) the best book by a Wisconsin author in 2005. You really have to read it to appreciate Carroll's amazing insights. Carroll takes a very complex subject (not to mention timely, given recent headlines about embryonic research), and makes it intriguing, funny, even suspenseful. It reads like a good mystery story, which of course evolutionary biology is. We understand his students at UW-Madison love him. He is a professor in the Genetics and Molecular Biology Department, and is known for using lyrics from Jimi Hendrix and The Doors to make his points. He uses them in the book, too.

You can meet Dr. Carroll at 4:00 p.m. Thursday in the Cypress Room, as well as at the Awards Banquet. Come and hear him speak, then read the book. And pick up the November issue of National Geographic while you're at it.

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