Monday, February 6, 2012
Review of The Mysterious Epigenome
The beautiful spiraled structure of DNA has fascinated scientist for years as they have slowly unraveled its secrets about life. Now, the study of epigenetics has become a subject of interest. Epigenetics is the study of DNA expression, such as why traits in the DNA are evident in a person physically (phenotype). In genetics, the "library" of information is stored in the genome and is perfectly identical in different types of cells. However, in epigenetics, there is as much epigenome variance as there are cell variance. The epigenome may be passed down through hereditary means like the genome, but there is a difference. The epigenome can be altered with lifestyle changes. As we delve deeper and deeper into what makes us, humans, us, we begin to question our origins... and even the meaning to our existence.
This book explores this and so much more.
Doesn't that just give you chills of excitement? If not, bear with me.
This book delves into the deeper consequences of the field of epigenetics to health, science, and spirituality. I'll be addressing the scientific content in this review:
I've always been interested in cells and how they work, especially when it comes to genetics. Therefore, most of this information was familiar to me, with the exception of what epigenetics is and how it all works. Yes, the field of genetics is very complex, and to be honest, much of what can ever be explained only skims the surface of what's occurring daily in our bodies. That doesn't mean you have to have a degree in genetics or microbiology in order to understand this book! You will be introduced to many cellular "friends". From the ribosome, to the nucleus, to little cellular "robots", the book beautifully illustrates the anatomy and physiology of the cell using a fictional research lab to give you the opportunity to learn about the cell. It uses engaging examples to draw parallels from the structures to items the reader will be familiar with. It also gives solid references to proven resources that a reader may explore. I'm a very visual person, so I was very appreciative of the illustrations and charts throughout the book. There's even a six page insert with color photographs to help readers further picture items of interest. Overall, this book is very readable with excellent scientific information.
I have never before truly thought about the field of epigenetics. In my study of genetics, it has always been, "this allele (bit of genetic instruction that is generally paired. one half from mom, one half from dad) is dominant, therefore is it expressed", but I've never really considered the deeper why and the deeper how. This book does that excellently and in a manner the reader will be able to understand. It also goes into the controversial debate of evolution vs. intelligent design, a topic which I must admit has intrigued me from a young age. I believe, intelligent design proponent or evolutionary proponent, it's important to keep an open mind when reading what you believe is right and what you believe is wrong. I'm not going to go into my personal opinion, but I will address the book's. This book is openly pro-intelligent design; the authors outrightly say that unapologetically. They cite many noted and respected scientists in the field to build an argument about intelligent design and its correlation to epigenetics. Intelligent design (ID) is not touted as creationism, in fact, the authors are quick to point out that ID is not creationism. ID is the amassing of scientific information to prove the complexity of life to indicate the presence of a designer, but it does not desire to address who that designer may be. Whether you believe in ID or are opposed to it, I believe this book is very important to read to be able to know the opinions that are out there to be able to either logically and analytically defend or reject it.
All in all, a very engaging read that I recommend to anyone interested in science, learning more about epigenetics, or wanting to know more about the ID vs. evolution debate. I rate this book five out of five stars.
Specifics (from amazon.com):
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (December 1, 2011)
Note: Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book for reviewing purposes.