Fertile ideas with bald concepts

Jon Turney asserts in his review (THES, May 12) that he has at least one sentence which is non-contentious as it is based on "an incontrovertible biological fact". Perhaps he is optimistic. A new individual does not begin when "a sperm and an egg unite at the moment of conception". It probably begins when individuation is initiated at gastrulation, some two weeks later in humans. The "moment of conception" is not a clear term either.

Perhaps he means the "moment" of fertilisation. But fertilisation is an extended process, and covers many events. These are baldly described as the sperm and egg uniting. I note with interest that he teaches science communication.


School of biological and medical sciences

University of St Andrews

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

Universities to scale back liberal arts and social science courses

  • David Humphries illustration (24 September 2015)

A Russell Group tagline rap is further proof that we need to reform the academy’s approach, argues Philip Moriarty

  • World University Rankings

US continues to lose its grip as institutions in Europe up their game

  • World University Rankings 2015-2016 methodology

Change for the better: fuelled by more comprehensive data, the 2015-2016 rankings probe deeper than ever

  • Review: Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men, by Jane Ward

It’s communal, kinky, defiant – but whatever it is, don’t call it that, says Kalle Berggren