Collection: Price's Equation

George Price (1922–1975) was an American scientist whose brief but productive career as an evolutionary theorist during the late 1960s and early 1970s is one of the most fascinating episodes in the history of the discipline. Price trained as a chemist and had worked on the Manhattan Project before becoming a science writer.

Self-funded by a large insurance settlement after a botched medical operation, he relocated to London at the end of 1967 and began teaching himself the basics of evolutionary theory, working first in libraries and then at the Galton Laboratory at University College London. Bringing a fresh perspective to the discipline, Price discovered an entirely novel approach to population genetics, and the basis for a general theory of selection — the Price equation.

Other accomplishments followed, but the period of discovery was cut tragically short by Price’s suicide, after which his name faded into obscurity. However, the Price equation has come to underpin several key areas of evolutionary theory, and is beginning to illuminate difficult issues in other disciplines.

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