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directions toward which fruitful research might be directed and where further information will be necessary to set standards. The first section deals with responses to physical agents, including sound, heat, microwaves, and ionizing radiation. The second section considers the nature, origin, and distribution of chemical agents that might come from the air, from occupational sources (complete as to type, but impossible to include all individual substances), food additives, medicines and drugs (again general, not all individual substances), and cigarette smoke. The third section describes the reactions and determinants of ports of entry which affect the respiratory system, the skin, and the alimentary tract. The fourth section gives the current status of knowledge of transportation and transformation of chemical agents within the body. This portion treats the changes from the points of view of physical chemistry, enzymology, and biochemistry. The fifth part portrays distribution and excretion of chemical agents and their derivatives, including storage in and release from bone and fat, as well as excretion through kidneys, gut, and lungs. The last section tells of mechanisms of cellular injury, including effects on cell membranes , covalent binding to cellular constituents, lipid peroxidation, intracellular digestion, and protein synthesis. This is an excellent compendium containing a wealth of material on a rapidly expanding area of endeavor. Robert W. Virtue 727 Birth Street Denver, Cobrado 80220 Heraclitean Fire: Sketchesfrom a Life before Nature. By Irwin Chargaff. New York: Rockefeller University Press, 1978. Pp. 251. $13.00. Irwin Chargaff is a remarkable person: an esteemed biochemist, a distinguished teacher, linguist, and classical scholar, and an effective writer who does not pull his punches. I will never forget an afternoon accompanying Professor Chargaffas he savored a portion ofthe University of Chicago's rare-book collection during a visit with Robert Rosenthal, the curator of the collection. The depth and breadth of Chargaffs knowledge were phenomenal. This, at a time when Current Contents appears to be the classic to some young biologists who are uninterested in anything written prior to the earliest paper retrievable by the Medline system. Heraclitean Fire: Sketches from a Life before Nature is, in a way, Chargaffs professional autobiography. It is a vivid account of the intellectual accomplishments of twentieth-century man; and, more important, it provides insight into the sometimes sad and sometimes angry messages of Chargaff. In the author's words, his life was rather charmed. Born in Austria in 1905, Chargaff was the only child of well-to-do parents who encouraged his "magical relation with language." He experienced "Austria in its expiring glory." Educated in Vienna, his graduate degree was in chemistry; he became a biochemist as a result of early opportunities in that area rather than any previous disposition toward biology. As he states, he was too young to be involved in World War I and too old for World War II. Chargaff avoids all mention of formal religious training and affiliation, and one must therefore assume that formal religion has been Perspectives in Biology andMedicine ¦ Spring 1979 | 457 of little matter to him. But his most fervent positions are clearly based on his firm belief in a supreme intelligence or wisdom and the sacredness of human life. He is certain that it is both irreverant and unwise to tinker with the nucleus—of the atom, as well as of the cell. Most of Chargaffs professional life was spent at Columbia University, where he rose to the rank of professor and head of one of the country's strongest departments ofbiochemistry. From his early postgraduate days onward, he was a productive researcher and prolific reporter and writer. His work on nucleic acids, which was begun during the mid-1940s, was probably his most important scientific contribution. He formulated the concept of complimentarity or base pairing in DNA. As is now well recognized, this work was a most significant precursor to the Watson-Crick double-stranded helical model of DNA. As recognition for his outstanding research accomplishment, Chargaff has received many honors—memberships in the National Academy of Science, winner of the President's Science Medal, honorary degrees, visiting professorships, etc. So why, one may ask, is Chargaff so sad and angry? Readers ofHeraclitean Fire will not agree on the...


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