Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History's Most Iconic Extinct Creatures

Any major scientific initiative is driven by two factors: the practical application to everyday human life that success of the endeavor would enable, and the "because we want to see if we can" factor. There's a lot to be said for the energizing effect of any "one giant leap for mankind" that we achieve--innovation powers more inventing, more research, more searching for answers. The stories behind these leaps forward are integral to inspiring more people to become curious about the world around them, and Ben Mezrich's Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History's Most Iconic Extinct Creatures provides both scientific advance and engaging storytelling. As it turns out, there's more at stake with these efforts than simply testing the limits of human ingenuity.

Sergey Zimov is a Russian scientist studying permafrost, which currently--currently being the operative word--covers nearly a quarter of the surface of Earth. It's melting, and if that continues, the amount of methane gas and carbon dioxide released would be devastating to our atmosphere and to life across the globe. When the Woolly Mammoth last walked the Earth, there was significantly less permafrost, and so the thinking goes that if our planet is returning to that environment, we need to restore the other missing pieces of that ecosystem to balance it out. Dr. George Church, considered to be one of the finest minds working in genetics research, is leading a team of scientists in designing, or engineering, a Woolly Mammoth gene sequence to be merged into the genetic code of a type of Asian elephant. Mezrich deftly moves his story back and forth in time, capturing the last days of a majestic animal, the early days of the scientists working to crack the code, and the current efforts safely to increase the pace of progress before the damage to the Earth is irrevocable. --Matthew Tiffany, LCPC, writer for Condalmo and psychotherapist

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