The Seeds of Life: From Aristotle to da Vinci, from Sharks’ Teeth to Frogs’ Pants, the Long and Strange Quest to Discover Where Babies Come From
Travel back in time to Aristotle and attempt to find the answer to the origin of babies: are they already found in the male fluid, or is the female infected by some contagion? Visit some of the early researchers: luminaries such as da Vinci, Vesalius, Harvey, de Graffe, Hertwig, Leeuwenhoek, Spallanzani are just a few of the many personalities immersed in this enigma. Science writer Edward Dolnick skillfully recounts the drama of this quest to understand the association between sex and the issue of new life. Many of the advances in knowledge were accompanied by blunders in interpretations and hampered by prevalent superstition, yet the story as it unfolds reflects the history of science. The researchers eventually learn from their mistakes. Follow the evolution of thought as various theories emerged such as the magic of a vital force and the preformation of the babe within the sperm, leading to two schools of thought in the ovists and the spermists. Finally, with the arrival of the microscope, the suspect egg and sperm were spotted, and the mystery clarified. This is a beguiling detective story with a cast of characters that that will amaze and awe the reader.