Lysenko's Ghost: Epigenetics and Russia

Lysenko s Ghost Epigenetics and Russia The Soviet agronomist Trofim Lysenko became one of the most notorious figures in twentieth century science after his genetic theories were discredited decades ago Yet some scientists even in the West

  • Title: Lysenko's Ghost: Epigenetics and Russia
  • Author: Loren R Graham
  • ISBN: 9780674089051
  • Page: 118
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The Soviet agronomist Trofim Lysenko became one of the most notorious figures in twentieth century science after his genetic theories were discredited decades ago Yet some scientists, even in the West, now claim that discoveries in the field of epigenetics prove that he was right after all Seeking to get to the bottom of Lysenko s rehabilitation in certain Russian scientThe Soviet agronomist Trofim Lysenko became one of the most notorious figures in twentieth century science after his genetic theories were discredited decades ago Yet some scientists, even in the West, now claim that discoveries in the field of epigenetics prove that he was right after all Seeking to get to the bottom of Lysenko s rehabilitation in certain Russian scientific circles, Loren Graham reopens the case, granting his theories an impartial hearing to determine whether new developments in molecular biology validate his claims.In the 1930s Lysenko advanced a theory of nutrients to explain plant development, basing his insights on experiments which, he claimed, showed one could manipulate environmental conditions such as temperature to convert a winter wheat variety into a spring variety He considered the inheritance of acquired characteristics which he called the internalization of environmental conditions the primary mechanism of heredity Although his methods were slipshod and his results were never duplicated, his ideas fell on fertile ground during a time of widespread famine in the Soviet Union.Recently, a hypothesis called epigenetic transgenerational inheritance has suggested that acquired characteristics may indeed occasionally be passed on to offspring Some biologists dispute the evidence for this hypothesis Loren Graham examines these arguments, both in Russia and the West, and shows how, in Russia, political currents are particularly significant in affecting the debates.

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    About "Loren R Graham"

    1. Loren R Graham

      Loren R Graham is a noted American historian of science, considered the leading scholar on Russian science outside that country.For almost fifty years he has published on that subject and others, and has taught at Indiana University, Columbia University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University, where he is currently a research associate He was a participant in one of the first academic exchange programs between the United States and the Soviet Union, studying at Moscow University in 1960 1961, and he has lived and worked in Russia dozens of times He usually goes to Russia several times a year.In addition to history of science, he has also written a popular book on Native American history A Face in the Rock and a memoir Moscow Stories which describes his youth in the United States and his adventures in Russia He has also been a strong supporter of human rights and scholarship He was a member of the board of trustees of George Soros s International Science Foundation which gave financial support to scientists in Russia immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union For many years he has been a member of the Governing Council of the Program on Basic Research and Higher Education, which supports the combining of research and teaching in Russian universities and is financially supported by the MacArthur Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, the Russian Ministry of Science and Education, and local groups in Russia He is a member of the advisory council of the U.S Civilian Research Development Foundation, which supports international scientific collaboration For many years he was a member of the board of trustees of the European University at St Petersburg and still serves on the board of a body raising money for that university He gave several thousand books from his library to the European University which has established a special collection in his name.In much of his work in the history of science, Graham has demonstrated the influence of social context on science, even its theoretical structure For example, in his Science and Philosophy in the Soviet Union which was a finalist for a National Book Award he delineated the influence of Marxism on science in Russia in some cases, such as the Lysenko Affair, deleterious, but, in other cases, particularly in physics, psychology, and origin of life studies, positive In his most recent work, Naming Infinity written together with the mathematician Jean Michel Kantor,see math.jussieu kantor he has shown the positive influence of a religious heresy on early work of the Moscow School of Mathematics Thus, Graham is not a proponent of any particular ideological view in science, such as Marxism or religion, but instead believes that scientists are sometimes influenced by a variety of different belief systems and philosophies Graham holds that occasionally this influence extends to mathematics itself, as shown not only in his work on the Moscow School of Mathematics but also in his article Do Mathematical Equations Express Social Attributes The Mathematical Intelligencer, 2000.In addition to writing on the history of scientific theories, Graham has written much on the organization of science in Russia and the Soviet Union, including a book on the early history of the Soviet Academy of Sciences The Soviet Academy of Sciences and the Communist Party and a recent one on the situation of science in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union Science in the New Russia, written together with Irina Dezhina.

    542 thoughts on “Lysenko's Ghost: Epigenetics and Russia”

    1. An excellent, pithy read by a historian who actually had the opportunity to speak with Lysenko.From the outset, Graham makes a conscious decision to be more engaged with the material than science historians usually are, and it's absolutely the right decision, because we're moving through an era when science and politics were intertwined to create Marxist Darwinism and its polar opposite, eugenics.This is important for anyone who thinks that science can be completely removed from politics. You're [...]


    2. A great insight and retelling of the connection between Russian politics and genetics, both in the 20th century and today. It is also a stark reminder that reality and established science don't give concern to one's political ideologies, no matter how fervent or well-intentioned one is in their political beliefs. It is true to say that there is such thing as a human nature, and a scientific material reality; and it isn't Marxist. Fantastic read.



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