Activating Evolution is a book by the late geneticist Chandra Suresh.
The front cover of the book consists of a blue background with the title and the author's name. Prominently featured is the mysterious symbol (which has appeared in various other locations). The back cover portrays a photograph of Dr. Suresh.
Activating Evolution details Dr. Suresh's theories regarding the emergence of humans with extraordinary new genetic abilities, and includes references to several of the abilities which Suresh predicted individuals would evolve to possess, including rapid tissue regeneration, teleportation, telepathy, and levitation.
Peter Petrelli discovers the book in the library while researching human flight. Peter brings the book to the attention of his brother Nathan while at his campaign headquarters. Peter believes the author "knows what's going on" and wants to find him. Peter gives Nathan the book, but Nathan dismisses Peter's desires to acknowledge their powers.
Chandra's son Mohinder finds and photographs a copy of Activating Evolution in Sylar's apartment in Queens, New York.
Mohinder tracks down Nathan, who does not listen to the young doctor's warnings about Sylar and the grave danger Nathan might face. Nathan does, however, tell Peter about Dr. Suresh. Peter mistakes the young Dr. Suresh for the elder Dr. Suresh pictured on the back of the book. Peter visits Mohinder at Mohinder's apartment, and the two embark on a short mission to discover Peter's powers.
In a dream, Chandra expresses to Mohinder how he believes his theories are correct. Mohinder replies it is becoming harder to "cover for him", referring that his theories and research are generating displeasure at the university. Chandra tells Mohinder he'll see who the fool will be.
The day of the Homecoming game, Zach gives Claire a copy of the book that he ordered off the Internet. He tells her there is a section on rapid cellular regeneration. Claire thinks it's a nice gesture of friendship.
In a dream, Mohinder tells Chandra that he happened upon a rough draft of Activating Evolution, and that he had just finished reading the manuscript. Mohinder is promptly chastised by his father for taking the text off his desk. Mohinder expresses an interest in helping Chandra, but Chandra replies that he doesn't want Mohinder to be involved in this. Chandra quotes Darwin and claims that a scientist should have a heart of stone and that Mohinder does not. He tells Mohinder to go home.
Chandra meets Gabriel Gray at his apartment for the first time, and gives Gray a copy of the book. Dr. Suresh informs Gray that he could be an evolved human. He mentions some theories from the book — that the brain controls every action, and that if there's a soul, it's in the brain. They also discuss the idea of an "evolutionary imperative", claiming that evolution compels creatures towards certain behaviors.
Later, Brian Davis enters Gray & Sons. Gabriel, referencing a "defect" he has detected in Davis, says, "I can fix it ... It's an evolutionary imperative!" Gabriel is then compelled to bludgeon Davis over the head.
Hiro, in the future, sees the front cover of Activating Evolution attached to a string web.
Mohinder takes a copy of his father's book to a New York City hospital. Later, a dying patient asks if the book is for him to read during his last days.
Mohinder gives the book to the teenage patient he rescued; the patient spends time reading the book in a secluded lakeside cabin.
On her way to Brooklyn, Maya hitchhikes to San Cristobal in a pickup truck and reads chapter 5 of Chandra Suresh's book, Activating Evolution. The chapter explains that even seemingly harmful mutations can bring hidden good; and that humanity is obligated to explore and understand its own mutations in order to ensure that hidden gifts from nature are not overlooked.
In Cairo, Bob shows Mohinder a copy of Activating Evolution which he says was found in the parapsychology section.
In San Cristóbal, Maya reads a Spanish copy of the book (Activando la Evolución) and seeks the author in New York City.
West tells Claire that he found a book that talks about human evolution, and that it has a chapter on regeneration. Later, West leaves a copy of the book on Claire's driveway.
At Nidia's home, Alejandro reads his copy of the book.
Maya shows Sylar the copy of the book, and Sylar says he knows the author, Chandra. He says he will take both Maya and Alejandro to the geneticist.
Nathan provides the President with files and records of and on evolved humans. Included is a flier for Professor Mohinder Suresh's lecture titled "Activating Evolution", which was held in a Cairo lecture hall.
The reporter mentions that ten years ago, Activating Evolution began speculation that evolved humans existed.
At the Quarry, Cassandra Hays finds a copy of Activating Evolution.
The following excerpt is from the Introduction, as listed on activatingevolution.org:
Scientists are fascinated by puzzles, and I am no exception. I have been known to spend hours on a drizzly Sunday morning, much to my wife's frustration, indulging in the most elegant puzzle yet designed by man: the New York Times crossword. There is a lyricism in the way the words stack and fall upon one another and in the small, elusive clues that gently prod like a teacher coaxing an answer from a faltering student. Most assume that a vast vocabulary is necessary to defeat these difficult puzzles, but the clues, as they are in the greater puzzles of like, are not literal -- they are figurative. And figurative clues require not a vast vocabulary, although that does help, but a vast imagination.
Just as imagination is the key to unlock the secrets of the Sunday crossword puzzle, it is also the key to unlock the riddles of science, of the cosmos, of mankind, of the future. The idea of "cold, hard science" is an illusion, for science is neither "cold" nor "hard". Those are attributes that we apply to things that frighten or repel us, things we don't understand. In fact, science is beauty, a way to get at truth, and to get at truth one must be willing to see every angle of every puzzle, which requires a great and deep imagination. Our physical senses, while providing our only connection to the world around us, also limit our everyday perception, and we must work to remove these limits if we are tho seek, with total, fearless honesty, the truth of what is to come.
I had considered call this book "Activating Imagination," but ultimately felt this title would mislead more than it would enlighten. Yet, as I write these words from my office at Chennai University, I wonder if I made the right choice. After all, this book asks much of its readers, starting with a willingness to accept things that he or she may find alien and possibly even heretical, things that require an active and engaged imagination. Those that possess this important trait may come to believe, as I have, that the human species is at the very dawn of an evolutionary renaissance, a word that I do not use lightly. "renaissance" literally means "rebirth" and that is exactly was is now at hand.
My work with the human genome project has uncovered the fact that tiny variations in our species' genetic code are taking place at an increasingly rapid rate. This should come as no surprise. So-called evolution is just that -- evolving. It is an ongoing process with no beginning and no end. As the world around us changes due to technology, shifts in the environmental patterns, overcrowding living conditions, war, disease, and hundreds of other seen and unseen factors, mankind reacts and mankind changes.
Currently, mankind uses less than a tenth of his brain power; there are even those who believe that we use much less than that. And though the human brain is the most remarkable mechanism we know of on earth, it is still highly inefficient and can only interpret the most obvious and base of senses: sight, smell, sound, passion, fear. But add a mere two additional neural pathways and the brain could interpret wavelengths at a frequency a thousand times greater than our current capacity, giving us the ability to hear each others' thoughts.
What else could the human brain and body achieve with the subtlest changes in biochemistry? Teleportation, levitation, instantaneous tissue regeneration, precognition, telekinesis, and even invisibility are well within the realm of possibility. Could it even be happening already?
I believe that it is.
Some may find this proposition ridiculous, others may find it terrifying, but it is my hope that you will find it thrilling for I believe, with all my imagination, that we are standing on the very threshold of true human potential.
--Chandra Suresh, Chennai University, 1993
The following excerpt is from Chapter 5, as listed in Maya y Alejandro:
Evolution is a matter of choice.
When a mutation is introduced, a decision is made.
Nature asks, "Does this new characteristic have value?"
"Does it represent progress?"
"Will it benefit the species?"
Let's take human flight, as an example.
One can imagine the ability to fly would enhance a person's chance of survival AND be attractive to the opposite sex. This makes choice easy.
But, as a contrast, there are mutations that could harm the positive evolution of a species. Like the ability to host a deadly virus.
Naturally, this type of trait is often rejected because if left unchecked, the worst cases of scenarios can occur... the extinction of the species. But in some cases the very mutation that seems most destructive can be cured, corrected or eradicated. Or better yet take the virtually immortal cancer cell. Some scientists believe it actually holds the secret to keeping healthy cells alive longer. A seemingly unattractive mutation holding the potential for something great.
And that is why, as beings capable of inserting ourselves into evolution's decision making process we have the obligation to fully understand our own species' mutations in order to ensure that the right choices are made. In order to ensure we do not ignore a hidden gift from nature.
The following is an excerpt, as read by Peter Petrelli in One Giant Leap:
Genes determine obesity, blood pressure...out of the thirty billion possibilities, one might contain the potential for human flight.
- On her way to San Cristóbal, Maya holds an English copy of Activating Evolution (Maya y Alejandro). Later, she reads a Spanish copy of the book (Four Months Later...). While this is most likely a simple oversight, it is possible (but unlikely) that Maya possesses more than one copy of the book.
- According to an article found in Mohinder's office, Chandra was working on research for a second edition of Activating Evolution at the time of his death.
- Activating Evolution was published in 1993. However, in the news report The Odessa Report, the reporter says that "10 years ago , the little-known book first speculated the existence of evolved humans.
- The jacket images for the book prop used in Heroes actually shows two different actors, one in more western style clothing and one in the traditional Indian wardrobe. Please see the Chandra Suresh article for more information.