Hanson, T. 2015 The Triumph of Seeds pg. XIX-XXV, 3-18, 55-80 Basic Books Philadelphia
This book discusses how seeds overcame and dominated all other plants in terms of density over the years. Rather than telling the story in a textbook-like fashion, however, the author tells it from his point of view. The book is organized into nice little sections that make navigating the topics easy (seeds nourish, unite, endure, defend, and travel). From what I can tell so far, the story discusses the overall uses, dispersal, history, characteristics, and physiology of seeds and seed plants.
In the beginning of the book, the author tries to crush a stubborn seed that wouldn’t even take a scratch to its hard outer coat when he smashed it with a hammer and the edge of his desk. This is a good example of why I would recommend this book to people who are looking to learn more about seed plants and their characteristics. Not many would expect a plant to produce such a robust, relentless, and hard substance. In fact, I’ve already recommended this book to my mother and father, who are avid gardeners. Hopefully they will read it!
The “nourish” section of the book begins with the author’s story of how he grew many avocado seeds in water. I found this very intriguing, so the next day I decided to try it for myself. After making a sandwich with avocado, I suspended the pit in a glass of water with 3 toothpicks stuck into the outer portion of the pit, hoping for a sprout in some time. I always hope to get results in my experiments, however I don’t know if the pit will sprout in Kamloops B.C.; I’ll just have to wait a couple months and see. Maybe it will never sprout. That’s the intriguing thing about the sciences (especially sciences to do with plants): unpredictability.
My favourite section was the chapter where Hanson was recreating the famous Mendel pea genetics experiment. He took many pea seeds and sowed them in his garden. He then collected the mature pea pods, and analyzed his crop for characteristics. One line in particular stood out to me during this part of the book: “And now, after months of tending, here was exactly the expected result: a small jar of smooth, round peas, as if the Bill Jump genes had simply disappeared. I picked up a handful and let them run through my fingers, sensing what Mendel must have felt: the satisfaction understanding a system well enough to predict it.”(pg. 79). This made me think about why we recreate these types of experiments for ourselves. Not only do we do it to support reproducible results that scientists have produced before us, but we do it to gain a level of understanding with our peers that we would otherwise not have if it weren’t for the re-creation of experiments.
Overall I’ve really enjoyed this book so far, so much so that I skipped ahead a couple of chapters to a chapter labeled “The Cheeriest Bean” and read it. This chapter caught my eye when I first opened the book and gazed at the table of contents, so I flipped to it, and I found a section on my favourite seed: the coffee bean. This topic however, is for another post.