Category: Biology & Life Sciences, Literature
History of Medicine In 1816, an Englishwoman still in her teens, Mary Shelley, conceived the story of a scientist obsessed with creating life. Shelley's scientist, Victor Frankenstein, succeeds. But while Frankenstein's creature can think and feel, he is monstrous to the eye. Spurned by all, including Victor Frankenstein himself, the embittered creature turns into a savage killer. In 1818, Shelley's story was published as Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus . This story — both in the original novel and shaped into new forms, such as plays, films, and comics — has captivated people ever since, exposing hidden, sometimes barely conscious fears of science and technology.
History of Medicine Rewriting the Book of Nature Charles Darwin and Evolutionary Theory Charles Darwin’s vision—“from so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved”—now forms the foundation of the biological sciences. Radical in sweep, Darwin’s idea of naturally innovating and endlessly changing webs of life undercut all previous sciences. Darwin was instantly seen as a potent sign of a new science, a new way of conceiving the world. His theory was an immediate threat not just to those who were wedded to an older conception, but to all who relied on a given and settled order for meaning and for power.