Brief Summary:The book, To Know a Fly by Vincent G. Dethier, is about a scientist who fell in love with the fly. Professor Dethier isnt like most scientists who are idolized for their accomplishments and rejected for the lack of ability to communicate with society. He was known for being an outstanding researcher, and he also had the wonderful gift of communication. The fact that he was fascinated by the knowledge that could be obtained from such a simple species, such as the fly, also made him popular with the public.
The main focus of the book involves Professor Dethier designing and performing various experiments. Each experiment done by Professor Dethier is very simple, therefore the reader is informed, and as Professor Dethier adds interesting facts about the experiments of the fly the reader can interpret it easier. Professor Dethier begins the book by explaining how science and scientist are often misunderstood. He continues by stating that anyone can be a scientist if they want wish. However, they must posses certain characteristics such as love for nature, curiosity of life, and a soaring imagination. After convincing the reader that they can understand and appreciate science, Professor Dethier begins to inform the reader about the fly.
He begins by defending the fly. Most everyone has a mutual understanding that flies are pests and are often considered to be disease infested. Most people dont even want to be in the presence of a fly.
Moreover, flies arent exactly the type of animal you would care to learn about so the Professor convinces you of the importance of research on even the simplest or seemingly unimportant animals. One characteristic he focuses on in regards to the fly is the fact that the fly is special because the insect can fly. This is a relatively simple concept, but if he earns some respect, for the fly, from the readers, he will be able to gather their interests, rather than allowing them to think they know everything of importance about the fly.
Analysis: As Professor Dethier creates a bias of curiosity, he states various advantages and disadvantages to working with the fly. The advantages consist of the insects cost, easy disposal, amount of food they consume, and the low cost of surgical instruments. The disadvantages include trying to keep such a small animal in captivation and having to buy a liver (a favorite food of the fly).
The Professor out of his own pocket pays for the expensive cost of liver. Upon building a general understanding of the fly, Professor Dethier begins to explain experiments and what types of knowledge can be obtained from a fly. For example, how do flies taste their food? You would probably assume thats a relatively simple question and a simple reply by relating the flies to humans. Flies taste with their tongues.
Wrong! In the book, Professor Dethier actually designs an experiment to determine how flies taste their food. This statement isnt mentioned to confuse you buy rather to increase your curiosity. Flies taste with their feet, but they actually use their proboscis (which could be comparable to a tongue) to drink. The fine hairs on their proboscis are also used to taste.
Flies have a very keen sense of taste. In another experiment relating to taste it was learned that flies arent fooled by artificial flavors. They wouldnt respond to imitation sugars. These characteristics may seem to separate the fly from humans, but they do also share common characteristics for example cravings. Cravings are our bodies way of telling what we need to function better.
The fly has the same basis for cravings. In flies, cravings are also the bodys way of taking care of its self. It was learned that the female flies go through a period in which they eat large amounts of proteins. They do all of this because the proteins play an important role in fly reproduction. It was found that during the time of protein cravings is when the females eggs were being formed. This bit of information helps the reader relate to the fly.
The last experiment I will address concerns the flys appetite. In this experiment, the purpose was