Download Autobiographies (Penguin Classics) by Charles Darwin PDF

By Charles Darwin

Self-taught and impressive, Charles Darwin is most famed for his groundbreaking-and to a few nonetheless controversial-theory of evolution and usual choice. In Autobiographies the nice scientist weighs his profession and his life.

Darwin's memoir concentrates on his public occupation and towering medical achievements yet is usually jam-packed with moments from his inner most existence. There are energetic anecdotes approximately his kinfolk and contemporaries, in addition to haunting stories of a mom he by no means knew, a hot-tempered father he may well by no means please, and lingering doubts in regards to the health of the genes he was once passing directly to his heirs.

Autobiographies contains a fraction Darwin wrote on the age of twenty-nine and the longer "Recollections" of 1876, displaying a guy towards the top of his existence who stands remoted, dogged by way of disease and self-doubt.

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Extra info for Autobiographies (Penguin Classics)

Sample text

A good idea (say, the development of keratin, a tough, fibrous protein) blossoms over eons into a hundred variants (including horns, hair, wool, nails, quills, claws, hooves, scales, feathers, baleen, beaks, and shells), each finely honed by evolution to suit a very specific function. This wide variability makes it challenging to present an instructive account of animal structural engineering: to be comprehensive would require a multivolume encyclopedia, whereas to present a broad overview of guiding principles risks losing contact with everyday reality.

The view that real vascular networks are responsible for scaling behavior in animals is given support by the data of Figure 5, which shows the scaling behavior for cells grown in mammals’ bodies (in vivo) and in a test tube (in vitro): those grown in vivo scale according to Kleiber’s Law (or Rubner’s law or something similar), because their nutrients are made available via vascular networks, whereas those cells grown in vitro do not scale, because they were supplied with nutrients in a different manner.

Hummingbirds (Figure 8) appear to live right on the edge. They are very small and so suffer more heat loss per gram of body mass than do larger endotherms; at the same time they must maintain a very high metabolic rate. So, hummingbirds spend most of their waking hours obtaining highenergy food, such as nectar (two to three times their own weight each day), despite which they are only hours away from starvation. 32 During this state their body temperature plummets (they lack insulating downy feathers), their metabolic rate drops by 95%, and they appear to be dead.

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