About the book

A uniquely accessible way of looking at recent major advances in the science of embryonic development.

In the span of just three decades, scientific understanding of the formation of embryos has undergone a major revolution. The implications of these new research endings have an immediate bearing on human health and future therapies, yet most nonscientists remain quite unaware of the exciting news.

In this engaging book, a distinguished geneticist offers a clear, jargon-free overview of the field of developmental biology. Benny Shilo transforms complicated scientific paradigms into understandable ideas, employing an array of photographic images to demonstrate analogies between the cells of an embryo and human society. Shilo’s innovative approach highlights important concepts in a way that will be intuitive and resonant with readers’ own experiences.

The author explains what is now known about the mechanisms of embryonic development and the commanding role of genes. For each paradigm under discussion, he provides both a scientific

image and a photograph he has taken in the human world. These pairs of images imply powerful metaphors, such as the similarities between communication among cells and among human beings, or between rules embedded in the genome and laws that govern human society.

The book is aimed first and foremost at people with little or no background in developmental biology who are curious to learn about embryonic development. Although not a textbook, it could also be used as a supplement to developmental biology courses at high school or college undergraduate level. In addition, it may stimulate students to photograph their own metaphors to the developmental concepts they study, and a web forum could be constructed to display and discuss these analogies. Finally, students who begin their research in developmental biology labs are initially swamped by literature related to their future research project. It may be instrumental and inspiring if in parallel they could also read a book that provides them with a ‘bird’s eye’ view of the field and the emerging concepts, to place their particular project in the context of the broader picture.