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AARATHI PRASAD was born in 1975 and has a PhD in biology and worked in cancer genetics at Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in London. In 2005 she moved out of the lab and into the world of science policy and communication, working for, among other organizations, Sense About Science, a charity set up to promote evidence-based science in public discussion. Her interest in reproductive medicine arises from three things: an undergraduate research project studying a protein that gives mouse sperm the capacity to fertilize eggs; her time in Parliament working to get the human-animal chimera stem-cell bill passed; and the fact that she is a single mother and sometimes thinks that it would be fabulous to have another child without first having to find the right man. In 2009 she presented Channel 4’s controversial documentary ‘Is It Better to be Mixed Race?’ and wrote and presented the two-part BBC Radio 4 documentary ‘The Quest for Virgin Birth’.

 

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Featured titles
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LIKE A VIRGIN
How Science is Redsigning the Frontiers of Sex
  

The female equivalent of Brain Cox... Entertaining and provocative

STYLIST.CO.UK, Hottest Debuts of 2012

 

Thoroughly fascinating and feisty – SUNDAY TIMES

 

As much fun as you’ll ever have thinking about sex without working up a sweat – PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

 

Thought-provoking stuff, accessibly written – BOOKSELLER

 

A fascinating book – Matt Ridley, author of THE RATIONAL OPTIMIST

 

In the future, girls will do it for themselves, boys – those who are left – will just be toys. Cheer or weep, but read this book – Armand LeroI, Professor of Evolutionary Developmental Biology, Imperial College London

 

A scintillating cocktail... a fascinating, topical and hugely readable investigation – METRO

 

Prasad’s humorous and anecdote-laden approach sweeps the reader along – BBC FOCUS

 

Now that we have the competent hand of science in our lives, will girls still need men? 


Sexual evolution is a slippery business. Like all mammals, we humans seem to have been left no choice in the matter: even though it is costly, inefficient and dangerous, if we want to reproduce we simply have to have sex. Yet most human cultures tell the tale of a maiden who gives birth untouched by a man; and in the wild there are plenty of creatures – such as turkeys, komodo dragons, sharks and the ‘Jesus Christ’ lizard (which walks on water, too) – that take various approaches to reproducing without sex.

 

In LIKE A VIRGIN, the biology writer Aarathi Prasad discusses how reproduction without sex is achieved in animals and explores why evolution hasn’t made it an option for humans – yet. In doing so, she provides a quirky, entertaining and perceptive overview of the mysteries of evolutionary biology, sex and reproduction – past, present and future. 

 

It’s a remarkable story that ranges across Greek mythology, natural history, agriculture, conservation and medicine; takes in some of the most exciting areas of developmental genetics and molecular biology that other popular science books largely ignore; and is packed full of a cast of amazing characters, be they obscure animals or eccentric scientists such as the respected geneticist Dr Helen Spurway who in the UK in the 1950s unwittingly sparked a nationwide search for a virgin mother.

 

There is now a plethora of strategies being developed in reproductive medicine that could ultimately keep our species going in a world of embellished sex: the creation of artificial eggs and sperm from bone marrow, labs-on-chips on which eggs are fertilized, silicone wombs and artificial wombs (where fetuses can spend their full nine months), and even research to prepare us for reproduction in space. What’s more, we are finally beginning to understand what genetic modifications are needed to allow for the creation of women who could have babies without having sex. Now that we have the competent hand of science in our lives, will girls still need men?

 

Publisher: Oneworld (UK/US)

Pub Date: 16 August 2012
Length: 276 pages

All rights available excluding:
Arabic (Arab Scientific), Bulgaria (ROI Communication), Italy (Bollati Boringhieri), Japan (East Press), Netherlands (De Bezige Bij)
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