Tuesday, September 9, 2008
The Trouble with Testosterone
.. And Other Essays on the Biology of the Human Predicament
I have a confession to make. In addition to liking all these novels that i read from around the world, i secretly like books that deal with neuro-science...and actually anything related to human biology..(phew! its finally out!)..:) I guess having a masters degree in Biological Sciences does point toward that predilection of mine..
One of my good friends, who also happens to be a professor of psychology feeds my interest with awesome books that totally enthrall me.. One book that I totally enjoyed reading and re-reading was this book by Robert Sapolsky. Robert Sapolsky is a professor of Biological Sciences and a Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University and he writes books!(So, I guess in a way, I was predestined to like anything he wrote!).
A small technical interlude in case there is a kindred soul who likes Biological Sciences and loves reading books enough to visit my blog - Sapolsky's main work focuses on Stress and Neuron Degeneration (and on a related note - gene therapy mechanisms to protect susceptible neurons). When he's not in the lab in Stanford, I guess he likes "vacationing" in Kenya annually where he studies a population of wild baboons to identify patterns of relationship between personalities and stress among these animals. He's written some other books along the same lines and you know it as well as I do - I am definitely going to read them!
Did you know???
- In August of 1992, an article published in the prestigious Science journal, finally demonstrated a biological difference between homosexual and heterosexual men. Homosexual men tend to have a smaller "third interstitial nucleus" in the hypothalamus ( the part of the brain that is central to sexual behavior) when compared to heterosexual men.. can you even imagine the implications of this discovery?? I guess that would be a whole post in itself. Of course, it is yet to be determined if the small "Third interstitial nucleus" is the cause of effect of being homosexual..
- A researcher of Chimps in Tanzania discovered a strange eating pattern among the Chimps. On waking, some of the chimps ate the leaves of the Aspilia plant..well, they didn't actually eat it but just kept it under their tongues for a few minutes before swallowing it whole. The strange thing was that these leaves weren't even tasty and the primates grimaced as they ate it.. Why would they want to put themselves through such an ordeal?? Well, looks like the leaves are rich in an antibacterial substance that helps in cleaning the digestive tracts of unwanted bacteria! I guess they have thir own little primate pharmacies with prescriptions as well!:))
- All primates tend to live in groups. One interesting phenomenon observed in these groups is the mechanism of adolescent emigration (i.e., adolescent primates moving permanently from one group to another). I guess that is nature's way of preventing inbreeding among the primate population. The coming together of two groups and the emigration of an adolescent from one group to another seems random but it sure isn't.
Well, i guess you get the general hang of the book from this. I loved reading all the essays in this book and I got too carried away by the subject matter to actually analyze and see how a lay person (with absolutely no biology background whatsoever) would understand and like the book. If you are looking for a different kind of a read, i would totally recommend this book to you.
If you have already read it, i would love to hear your views on this one.