Forced to Choose
American scientific icon, author of The Ants and a host
of other classics including one that made our list, The
The books I would consider most influential in my scientific life
were all read while a teenage student at the University of Alabama,
during my intellectually most formative years. They were, first and
foremost, the canon of the New Synthesis of evolution, notably
Theodore Dobzhansky's Genetics and the Origin of Species,
Ernst Mayr's Systematics and the Origin of Species, and
George G. Simpson's Tempo and Mode in Evolution, which
together brought the study of evolution back to nature and made
natural history scientific in the modern sense. I was also enchanted
by Erwin Schrödinger's What is Life?, which opened a
romantic vista of reductionistic biology and influenced many
molecular biologists to come, but I did not follow.
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