Three profoundly destabilizing scientific ideas ricochet through the twentieth century, trisecting it into three unequal parts: the atom, the byte, the gene.

The simple answer is that matter, information, and biology are inherently hierarchically organized: understanding that smallest part is crucial to understanding the whole.

Freaks became norms, and norms became extinct. Monster by monster, evolution advanced.

In a fit of panic, de Vries rushed his paper on plant hybrids to print in March 1900, pointedly neglecting any mention of Mendel’s prior work. Perhaps the world had forgotten “a certain Mendel” and his work on pea hybrids in Brno. “Modesty is a virtue,” he would later write, “yet one gets further without it.”

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