(PDF) The Violinist's Thumb And Other Lost Tales of Love War and Genius as Written Da Our Genetic Code
Assical music follows a ower law The freuency of words in literature also follows a ower law Note Kean does not mention the term The Black Calhouns: From Civil War to Civil Rights with One African American Family power law but he describes it in other words He shows that at some level DNA codes also follow aower law He shows how Shadows in a Timeless Myth palindromes do arise in DNA occasionally and how they have affected X and Y chromosomesKean explains how various genetics researchers made discoveries and influenced or failed to influence each other Kean has a remarkable ability for bringing human interest stories to life For example he tells the story of Barbara McClint Genes are at the heart of this book and the author just happens to havearents named Gene and Jean last name Kean so this topic is in his well you get it Sam Kean is one of my favorite authors deftly explaining scientific concepts in the context of the fascinating figures who first brought them to our attention The stories are full of the humor and foibles of real life and that realistic treatment brings the C++ Primer people and situations to life all the convincingly Kean has a remarkable knack for finding fun anecdotes and interesting connections that reinforce concepts throughout his books His enthusiasm is infectuous and bleeds out in the form of humor copious end notes additional notes and illustrations on his website and in the case of this book a hidden acrostic message encoded in the Chapters Paragraphs I ve already spent a couple hours trying to decode it and am likely over thinking it but figured I should write this review first or who knows how long I ll be working this outThe Violinist s Thumb is about the history of genes and DNA how we came to uestion the nature of inheritance our first inklings of the structures involved dalliances with fruit flies seuencing genomes encodingroteins suffering mutations uzzling over freaks and chimeras swapping DNA with Neanderthals detecting virus intrustions all the way up to our current improved yet incomplete understanding of what makes us us As of 2012 anyhow Having completed all four of Kean s books I dub this the most challenging The subject matter itself is incredibly dense metaphorically as well as literally six feet of DNA is crammed into every one of our cells and the DNA from one body could travel from the sun to Pluto and almost return Kean has to describe with words a lot of things that are hard to understand even with ictures and there are a lot of moving arts one again literally and competing concurrent rocesses to consider when thinking about the complex actions of DNA RNA Zees Story proteins mutations nutrients and drugs bacteria viruses and epigenetic factors There are manyassages I had to read multiple times just to understand well enough to rocede if you ve had formal training in genetics this will likely come much easier to youCharacters familiar and unfamiliar are represented We of course learn a lot about Mendel and Darwin but also about Friedrich Miescher and his efforts in a cold castle kitchen to extract dna from salmon sperm never knowing exactly what he had accomplished Thomas Hunt Morgan and the scientists in his lab bred gazillions of fruit flies in work that led to multiple Nobel Prizes but Morgan he often took credit for ideas and never aid an essential contributor he didn t ay the fruit flies either Watson and Crick are here but so is Sister Miriam Michael Stimson a nun who made their discovery ossible we also learn of the clergical error that led to her getting the name Michael and that she contributed to the invention of Preparation H Lynn Margulis s brilliant insight into endosymbionts is represented as well as her other bold unsubstantiated ideas Barbra "MCCLINTOCK S SKILL WITH A MICROSCOPE AND IDENTIFICATION OF "s skill with a microscope and identification of genes is told in the light of the scientific scrutiny that drove her into seclusion but later drew her back out as a science celebrity We jump through history and learn of northern explorers dying and nearly dying at the razored hands and nutrient rich livers of olar bears hint you can over do it with Vitamin A Royal bloodlines and figures like Akhenaten Tutankhamun Henri Tolouse Lautrec Alexei Nikolaevich and the Hapsburgs teach us lessons about deleterious alleles Soviet biologist Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov worked hard to breed humans and chimpanzees and it might have worked if it weren t for those meddling olitical ideologies The titular violinist is Niccolo Paganini whose genetic condition gave him extraordinarily flexible and strong hands but also led to his miserable bodily decline with the help of mercury All Lost Things poisoningAll of these fascinating stories and many combined with artful scientific explanations do a fantastic job of fleshing out one s understanding of genes DNA and the science of what it takes to build a body A highly recommended read This got off to a bad start for me when onage 33 Kean euated Darwinian natural selection and survival of the fittest Herbert Spencer andor social Darwinism were never mentioned Then in an incendiary chapter on cats and toxoplasmosis toxo he never explains that a cat who has lived indoors all its life cannot carrytransmit the disease Then what else
The Tone Was Tootone was too and much of the material was too simplistic glossing over opposing viewpoints or assuming the reader s ignorance or silly sentences like I don t want to get all eugenicky on you And he often went to ains not to use common terms such as unctuated euilibrium or corpus callosum or haplotype as if these would scare off the reader At least once Kean committed the unforgiveable sin of calling chimpanzees and gorillas monkeysThe other One Man's Justice problem with this book was that there were no endnoteser s Several times I wanted to know where Kean was getting his information and whomwhat he was A Little Hotel On The Side paraphrasing but had nowhere to go There is a Selected Bibliography the list of books andapers Kean claims to have consulted while writing The Violinist s Thumb but it is sketchy extremely short and fairly non scholarly There is also a Heute Ziehst Du Aus: Roman post text section titled Notes and Errata but it gave no citations whatsoever Not to mention the word Errata why is it called that when there is no list of mistakes or corrections But by the final chapter I d come to like the book if only because I admired how much trivia and how many interesting anecdotes were crammed into 358age. Pecie la iù dominante che il nostro ianeta abbia conosciuto e insieme le semplici storie individuali dimostrando l'impatto decisivo che l'eredità genetica ha sul destino di ciascuno di noi Ma non si Kapriolen Des Schicksals[Roman] pensi che il seuenziamento del genoma umano rappresenti ununto d'arrivo Le nuove frontiere dell'ingegneria genetica aprono The Magnanimous Heart prospettive che ci affascinano e al tempo stesso ci terrorizzano specie uando lasciano intravedere laossibilità di «modificare la nostra stessa essenza chimica e di inventare da capo la vita». Oskeleton The turnip gene makes flies stupid like they just fell off the tu If Sam Kean had a bandwagon I d be on it If he were stock I d buy him If he were ice cream I d shove him into a waffle cone andokay well now things are just getting weird I ve waxed oetic about my love of Kean before and this is another delightful Kean roduction though erhaps not uite as wonderful as others One Day in December particularly Caesar s Last Breath which I think is his best work to dateGenerally speaking Kean s books link a string of enlightening and often entertaining anecdotes together under a common theme a formula The Vi In Kean s follow up to The Disappearing Spoon he keeps the same breezy form but switches his subject from chemistry to genetics While we get science history and anecdotal stories thanure science we still learn much about how our genome works Kean writes for the general reader Using his tongue in cheek style he delivers short vignettes of scientists and famous Alamo Story: From Early History to Current Conflicts people with geneticeculiaritiesThe book begins with Darwin and Mendel and follows their ideas up through double helix discoverers Watson and Crick I had read about these men s accomplishments but little of what had happened in between So I found articularly interesting descriptions of the scientists whose incremental advances set the stage for the discovery of DNA s structure and function Much of the book is tangential For example we learn how DNA rotects Isabel de Solis, Soraya: Un Cuento de Amor En La Alhambra polar bears from overdosing on vitamin A from their diet of vitamin A rich seal meat The vitamin A is stored in their liver Kean gives us an account of arctic explorers who nearly died eating it Even further afield he highlights therotozoan Out of the Box parasite Toxo which makes cysts ineople s brains It can influence their emotions and even induce a love of cats He tells us about an infected couple who took in hundreds of catsKean also digs into the seedier side of genetics He brings up Ilya Ianovich Ivanov who convinced the Bolshevik regime in Russia that he could create humanzees Perhaps Stalin envisioned slave humanzee armies Fortunately his grisly experiments failed We learn how DNA allows creatures like ligers and zonkeys but not humanzees However most of us carry some Neanderthal DNAThere is much less diversity in the human genome than in most other species Kean attributes this to The First Secret of Edwin Hoff population bottlenecks many thousands of years ago when our numbers were greatly reduced and our survival as a species was tenuous Smallopulations lead understandably to inbreeding and genetic similarity but also to faster evolution It is much easier for a new trait to sweep through a small opulationGenetics is a factor in many special abilities and talents Regarding intelligence not much seems certain There are too many forces at lay Kean highlights how genetic based hysical oddities did contribute to two great musicians Rachmaninoff because of his huge hands wrote music only he could lay with ease The great nineteenth century violinist Paganini had hands uniuely flexible and strong due to a genetic condition that affected the way his body made collagen Kean describes the competition of the 1990 s to seuence the human genome The amazing speed with which this was accomplished was due to brute force methods that leave us with a lot of data we are just beginning to understand Adding to the complexity of the genome is epigenetics the ramping up or down of gene expression through cellular rincesses driven largely by non coding DNA Epigenetic factors influenced by the environment may even in some circumstances affect offspring Lastly Kean looks at the future DNA modification can have huge benefits but may just open Pandora s Box This book was really good and I can t believe how long it took me to finish it But even though it is written in a way that makes it easy and engaging for anyone I found that I had to take lots of time to absorb it I d leave it for days at a time and then not get very far But it wasn t due to being boring or dry Sam Kean is an engaging story teller and he made a complicated "WORK VERY ACCESSIBLE I M GOING "very accessible I m going be honest and tell you the entire reason I icked up The Violinist s Thumb by Sam Kean is not because I m interested in biology or DNA or anything to do with science really it s because the name Paganini drew me inI ve never been the type of girl to understand science The closest I came was a low C in Biology 14 years ago when I attended the University of Wyoming Ever since then I ve operated under the assumption that magic sparkles course through my veins that storks bring babies to deserving Under Lock and Key parents and that my father gave me his caterpillar eyebrows as a way to torture me in my later years of life Sound silly Of course it does that s because when I see science explained it looks as strange to me as reading a difficultiece of iano sheet music might to you I say might here because I m operating under the assumption that you don t lay Rachmaninoff on a daily basisIn spite of all these misgivings the name of Paganini the famous violinists who folk lore states sold his soul to the devil for his ability to lay drew me IN TO THIS BOOK RANDOM FACT FRANZ LISZT ALSO to this book Random fact Franz Liszt also to be demonic in laces studied Paganini s skill on the violin and translated it to the Something Wicked piano He also was the first tolay music memorized on the stage for a concert I blame him for my many breakdowns AnywaySo Paganini was the bait but what hooked me about this book was just how accessible the science was Seriously it blew me away In between serious chunks of letters and strands and things I know nothing about were anecdotal stories and historic lessons about names and things I had never known about It opened up a whole new world to me and in the Velvet Ropes (Club Undercover process I like to think I learned a little something then I expected toFully enjoyable well researched and surprisingly fun this book gave me really strange DNA dreams and made me feel a little bit like a smarterson for a short while This is a very good and entertaining survey of the history of genetics I learned a great deal about DNA how it works and how scientists are trying to unravel its secretsEvery chapter contains some fascinating facts histories and insights For example Kean makes analogies between music linguistics and the structure of DNA The freuency of various notes in cl. N esplora ueste e altre uestioni e ci mostra come da ualche Freud and His Followers parte nel groviglio di filamenti della doppia elica si trovino le risposte a molti misteri sugli esseri umani La decifrazione del codice genetico non è stata facile ma grazie a essa gli scienziati sono ora in grado di leggere le storie stupefacenti e vecchie di migliaia o a volte milioni di anni scritte nel nostro dna Come un antico oracolo che non ha ancora smesso diarlare il dna sa raccontarci le grandi saghe delle origini e dell'evoluzione della nostra .
CHARACTERS The Violinist's Thumb And Other Lost Tales of Love War and Genius as Written by Our Genetic Code.
What I learned from reading Sam Kean s The Violinist s Thumb and Other Lost Tales of Love War and Genius as Written by Our Genetic Code Little Brown and Company 2012I should never eat Pjesme polar bear liver unless I want my skin toeel off from foot to headMy cats resence soothes me because the Toxoplasma gondii arasites they carry manufacture dopamine which has a feel good effect on the human brainWhales and dolphins have hair what Kean calls a comb over A Russian scientist Il ya Ivanovich Ivanov recruited women to copulate with an orangutan named Tarzan The scientist hoped to create a humanzee Doctors enjoy diagnosing fictional characters Ebenezer Scrooge with OCD Sherlock Holmes with autism and Darth Vader with borderline ersonality disorder 271Fruit fly genes are cleverly and creatively named Examples include groucho smurf fear of intimacy lost in space smellblind faint sausage tribble after the multiplying fuzzballs on Star Trek and tiggywinkle after Mrs Tiggy winkle a character from Beatrix Potter The armadillo gene when mutated gives fruit flies a lated exoskeleton The turnip gene makes flies stupid Tudor leaves males as with Henry VIII childless Cleopatra can kill flies when it interacts with another gene asp Cheap date leaves flies exceptionally tipsy after a sip of alcohol Fruit fly sex especially seems to inspire clever names Ken and Barbie mutants have no genetalia Male coitus interruptus mutants spend just ten minutes having sex the norm is twenty while stuck mutants cannot hysically disengage after coitus As for females dissatistfaction mutants never have sex at all they spend all their energy shooing suitors away by snapping their wings And thankfully this whimsy with names has inspired the occasional zinger in other areas of genetics A gene that gives mammals extra nipples earned the name scaramanga after the James Bond villain with too many A gene that removes blood cells from circulation in fish became the tasteful vlad tepes after Vlad the Impaler the historical inspiration for Dracula The backronym for the POK erythroid myeloid ontogenic gene in mice okemon nearly A'dan Z'ye Yaşar Kemal provoked a lawsuit since theokemon gene now known sigh as zbtb7 contributes to the spread of cancer and the lawyers for the Pok mon media empire didn t want their cute little Nacht pocket monsters confused with tumors 50 51I uote extensively here to demonstrate the humor that might not be expected in a book on scientific history When I taught at an engineering university students freuently informed me that engineers weren t supposed to be creative Kean certainly refutes that belief so far as genetic engineers and researchers are concerned After reading a number of otheropular sciencepsychology books this summer I found myself appreciating Kean s organization The content of each chapter seemed necessary and I appreciated the coherence of his arrangement of anecdotes I only occasionally had trouble following assages the one on genetic algorithms for example Usually I felt very focused and never thought Oh no it s another random case study a common enough reaction when I m wending my way through best selling works of nonfiction I recommend this book to my creative writing eers both oets and fiction writers as I think they will find Kean s approach to be both informative and inspirational Kean manages to cram enough information into this book to satisfy the armchair historian biologist or trivia aficionado while somehow keeping it readable and entertainingIt s a rather monumental task combining the history of science with the "latest discoveries he s retty good about explaining "discoveries He s
pretty good about explaining talking down I think he assumed most of his readers wouldgood about explaining talking down I think he assumed most of his readers would like me took bio in high school and have vaguely kept up with discoveries announced in the ress but have to shamefacedly admit that while we ve heard of RNA we can t really uite remember exactly what it does He defines terms as he goes assuming that you don t really remember or know a
of this but that you re intelligent enough to keep up I I did for the most art There were so Curse of Rocky Colavito paragraphs that I d definitely need to go back and rereadossibly with a reference to fully understand but he generally Captive picks you again on the other side with enough of a layman s description that even if you didn t uite follow how all theroteins come together you can still understand the overall implications by the end And he does it without making you feel like a dolt which is nice Did I understand everything fully No Will I retain what I did get Probably some of it robably not all But I think my overall understanding of where we stand at the moment is drastically improvedAnd all along he illustrates the science with history Stories about the scientists who made the discoveries about famous cases from Paganini to Einstein about weird discoveries in our own genome Did you know that an enormous amount of our DNA appears to have been stolen from bacteria and viruses The lacenta looks like it was reverse engineered from the traits that retroviruses use to hide from immune systems Without incorporating retrovirus DNA into our own we never could have developed live birth He usually develops a sense of tension by introducing a story at the beginning of a chapter and leaving it at a cliffhanger to explain the science going on behind the case He ll touch base with the chapter s story two or three times using it to illustrate various facets of a discovery before finally resolving the original story by the end of the chapter It s a remarkably effective techniue of breaking up the long explanationsOverall it s a fascinating look about what we know about what makes our bodies work and how we learned it The author s arents were named Gene and Jean That s right Gene and Jean Kean What else could their son do but write a book about genetics And a fun book it is with some fascinating stories There is enough DNA in a human body to stretch from Pluto to the sun and back There s enough DNA on earth to stretch across the known universe many many times Fruit fly genes have fun names such as groucho smurf fear of intimacy lost in space smellblind faint sausage tribble from the Star Trek episode and tinman if mutated can revent fruit flies from growing a heart A mutant armadillo gene gives fruit flies a The Kennel Club's Illustrated Breed Standards: The Official Guide to Registered Breeds plated ex. La specie umana è stata sulunto di estinguersi Può la genetica spiegare l'a ossessivo di certe Sons of Brahma personeer i gatti Perché nascono individui rivi di impronte digitali e bambini con la coda Che cosa ossono dirci i geni sulla morte rematura del faraone Tutankhamon o sulla vicenda di Tsutomu Yamaguchi il giapponese sopravvissuto a due esplosioni nucleari uale combinazione genetica creò le dita straordinariamente flessibili di Paganini Con la consueta brillantezza e il eculiare gusto er l'aneddoto scientifico Kea. .lot of this but that you re intelligent enough to keep up I