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The Violinist's Thumb And Other Lost Tales of Love War and Genius as Written by Our Genetic Code

Download The Violinist's Thumb And Other Lost Tales of Love War and Genius as Written by Our Genetic Code

N esplora ueste e altre uestioni e ci mostra come da ualche 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 di parlare il dna sa raccontarci le grandi saghe delle origini e dell'evoluzione della nostra s. This is a ver

Review ¾ PDF, DOC, TXT, eBook or Kindle ePUB free ´ Sam Kean

La specie umana è stata sul punto di estinguersi Può la genetica spiegare l'a ossessivo di certe persone per i gatti Perché nascono individui privi di impronte digitali e bambini con la coda Che cosa possono dirci i geni sulla morte prematura 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 peculiare gusto per l'aneddoto scientifico Kea. If Sam Kean h Grammar and Practice with Answer Key certe persone per i gatti Perché nascono individui privi di impronte digitali e bambini Pills and Pacifiers: An Age-Play Medical Fantasy con la Felt and Torch on Roofing: A Practical Guide coda Che Diamonds, Gold, and War: The British, the Boers, and the Making of South Africa cosa possono dirci i geni sulla morte prematura del faraone Tutankhamon o sulla vicenda di Tsutomu Yamaguchi il giapponese sopravvissuto a due esplosioni nucleari uale King John and Magna Carta: A Ladybird Adventure from History book combinazione genetica Soundtracks For Learning: Using Music In The Classroom creò le dita straordinariamente flessibili di Paganini Con la Bleach, Vol. 32: Howling consueta brillantezza e il peculiare gusto per l'aneddoto scientifico Kea. If Sam Kean h

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Pecie la più dominante che il nostro pianeta 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 pensi che il seuenziamento del genoma umano rappresenti un punto d'arrivo Le nuove frontiere dell'ingegneria genetica aprono prospettive che ci affascinano e al tempo stesso ci terrorizzano specie uando lasciano intravedere la possibilità di «modificare la nostra stessa essenza chimica e di inventare da capo la vita». The author's

10 thoughts on “The Violinist's Thumb And Other Lost Tales of Love War and Genius as Written by Our Genetic Code

  1. says:

    I'm going to be honest and tell you the entire reason I picked 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 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 difficult piece of piano sheet music might to you I say might here because I'm operating under the assumption that you don't play 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 play drew me in to this book Random fact Franz Liszt also rud to be demonic in places studied Paganini's skill on the violin and translated it to the piano He also was the first to play 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 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 smart person for a short while

  2. says:

    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 poetic about my love of Kean before and this is another delightful Kean production—though perhaps not uite as wonderful as others 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 Violinist’s Thumb continues Here however the anecdotes feel a bit less tightly connected It’s like a bunch of three year olds playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey at a birthday party Like the sight of drunken midgets blindly wobbling toward a wall and trying to Velcro a superfluous appendage to a mule’s ass it’s highly entertaining and some of it hits the mark perfectly At other times however the tail ends up on the nose or maybe in the case of the little funny kid who can’t pronounce R’s and always forgets which end of the spoon to hold attached to the back of grandma’s homemade sweater Still it’s well worth a read particularly for Kean’s nuanced discussion of the controversial implications of genetics research on race sexuality and other hot button topics His deft handling of measuring the potential benefits of such research against the need to be cautious in how—and how uickly—we interpret such results is a masterclass in compassionate rationalism and makes a compelling case for Kean to be appointed Secretary of Science StuffWait that’s not a thing? Is it just because our current president thinks climate change is a Chinese hoax or is it just normally not a thing? It’s normally not a thing? Well that’s stupid When I’m president it will be a thing And I will appoint Sam Kean as the Secretary of Science Stuff Also I will reverse the current administration’s stance that science like pro gay cakes and facts are only for snowflake libtards and I will insist that we actually use it as a basis for things like I don’t know environmental policy Okay I’m off the soapboxFeel free to join me on the bandwagon folks There’s plenty of room

  3. says:

    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 polar bear liver—unless I want my skin to peel off from foot to headMy cats’ presence soothes me because the Toxoplasma gondii parasites 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 personality 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 plated 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 physically 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—pokemon—nearly provoked a lawsuit since the pokemon gene now known sigh as zbtb7 contributes to the spread of cancer and the lawyers for the Pokémon media empire didn’t want their cute little 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 other popular 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 passages 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 peers—both poets and fiction writers as I think they will find Kean’s approach to be both informative and inspirational

  4. says:

    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 classical music follows a power law The freuency of words in literature also follows a power law Note Kean does not mention the term power law but he describes it in other words He shows that at some level DNA codes also follow a power law He shows how 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 McClintock whose incredible observational skills with a microscope enabled her to discover jumping genes in 1951 Scientists dismissed her discovery because she dared to uestion the stationary gene dogma Her reputation suffered badly Decades later as genetics progressed she was vindicated and was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1983I have two misgiving about this book First Kean freuently uses the word theory in the popular sense rather than in the scientific sense He should really have used the word hypothesis which is much appropriate for a new idea that is still unproven Second Kean's writing is peppered with silly attempts at humor He uses expressions like a bitter butter battle broke out Heck and we also needed us some brains Such attempts at humor somehow seemed out of place and put me offNevertheless I recommend this book to anybody who would like to get a fascinating overview of genetics and its history

  5. says:

    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 than pure 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 people with genetic peculiaritiesThe 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 particularly 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 protects 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 the protozoan parasite Toxo which makes cysts in people’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 population bottlenecks many thousands of years ago when our numbers were greatly reduced and our survival as a species was tenuous Small populations 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 populationGenetics is a factor in many special abilities and talents Regarding intelligence not much seems certain There are too many forces at play Kean highlights how genetic based physical oddities did contribute to two great musicians Rachmaninoff because of his huge hands wrote music only he could play 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 princesses 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

  6. says:

    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 pretty good about explaining without talking down I think he assumed most of his readers would be like me took bio in high school and have vaguely kept up with discoveries announced in the press 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 lot of this but that you're intelligent enough to keep up I think I did for the most part There were so paragraphs that I'd definitely need to go back and reread possibly with a reference to fully understand but he generally picks you again on the other side with enough of a layman's description that even if you didn't uite follow how all the proteins 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 probably 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 placenta 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

  7. says:

    Genes are at the heart of this book and the author just happens to have parents 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 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 out?The 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 encoding proteins suffering mutations puzzling 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 pictures and there are a lot of moving parts one again literally and competing concurrent processes to consider when thinking about the complex actions of DNA RNA proteins mutations nutrients and drugs bacteria viruses and epigenetic factors There are many passages I had to read multiple times just to understand well enough to procede 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 paid an essential contributor he didn't pay the fruit flies either Watson and Crick are here but so is Sister Miriam Michael Stimson a nun who made their discovery possible 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 jumping 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 polar 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 political 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 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

  8. says:

    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

  9. says:

    The author's parents 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 prevent fruit flies from growing a heart A mutant armadillo gene gives fruit flies a plated exoskeleton The turnip gene makes flies stupid like they just fell off the turnip truck Tudor genes leave flies without progeny When a cleopatra gene interacts with an asp gene it can kill the fly A cheap date gene leaves flies tipsy after a sip of alcohol Ken and barby mutants have no genitalia Male coitus interruptus gene mutants spend just ten minutes on sex when the norm is twenty Stuck mutant genes cannot physically disengage after sex Female dissatisfaction mutants have no sex at all There are some fun names occasionally elsewhere also A scaramanga gene named after the James Bond villain gives mammals extra nipples The vlad tepes genes removes blood from fish The pokemon gene almost provoked a lawsuit The flour beetle's medea gene kills a female's progeny If you ever think you had a bad day just remember the story of Tsutoma Yamaguchi in August 1945 He survived two atomic explosions on that day The whole story is pretty amazing but I will never complain about my day again He lived until the year 2010 The author points to the small hope in the fact that thousands of children of A bomb survivors remained alive as he wrote the book Zipf's Law states something like the biggest or most common item in each class was twice as big or common as the second item which is twice as big as the third item and so on This seemed to apply with words that Mr Zipf studied in great books DNA may have Zipfian properties as well Noam Chomsky stated Colorless green ideas sleep furiously to show that meaningless sentences are independent of syntax So the sentence itself is actually not uite devoid of meaning Like modern poetry Computer software concluded that Shakespeare indeed did write The Two Noble Kinsmen But that he did not write Pericles Do we believe it? Without the kickstart of mitochondria primitive life might never have developed into higher life much less intelligent human beings The first organic molecules appeared near volcanic vents on the ocean floor Organics were also imported from space Life starting up was surprisingly easy It was mitochondria that solved the problem of energy consumption They allowed cells to expand their DNA repertoire 200000 times Polar bear livers have astronomical amounts of vitamin A That vitamin allows seals to survive in the cold Polar bears need it to pack on blubber Poisons accumulate as you move up the food chain Polar bears needed to deal with it or starve Evolution saved them Some explorers learned the hard way not to eat the livers of polar creatures Chimpanzees have short spines on their penises In other words they have well ahem prickly pricks Humans lost them many years ago thus prolonging copulation because male sensations decreased to say nothing of battered vaginas The human line almost went extinct multiple times A biologist named Ivanov in Stalinist Russia tried to unite human and chimpanzee genes He failed when he jammed human sperm into chimp vaginas and not their uteruses Artificial insemination was considered shameful by the church A barren couple having sex would have someone listening in at the door and then charge in at the last moment with a batch of sperm to shove into the woman in an effort to trick her egg cells into believing it came from intercourse Trofim Lysenko almost killed Soviet agriculture by only believing in environment factors and never in heredity After Einstein died Thomas Harvey pilfered his brain for further study It actually weighed less than normal Americans in WWII took parts of Mussolini's bran to study a dictator Folding in a brain does usually indicate higher functioning Lack of brain folds is devastating The sneeze reflex can be inherited and often uncontrollable I know a bit about that since I cannot sneeze once It usually takes me about ten or so before I stop The great violinist Niccolo Paganini refused communion and confession on his deathbed fearing it would hasten his demise The Church refused him proper burial It took a few months to finally get him into a private garden where he rested for 36 years before the Church forgave him and permitted burial Toulouse Lautrec had a genetic disorder that left him with rotting teeth a swelling nose and lips that flopped open and drooled Thus he wore a stylish beard He encouraged rumors to help his reputation with you know who He had the nickname Tripod for you know what But he was a bit of a dwarf So he hung out in bars and bordellos And he gave the characters there a little bit of dignity The temptations of the Moulin Rouge casual sex late nights and strangling the parakeet his euphemism for drinking himself stupid took their toll on Toulouse Lautrec's body He used to keep liuor in a hollowed out cane It all eventually killed him Charles Darwin was a wheezing wreck who disgusted even himself He suffered from boils fainting fits heart flutters numb fingers insomnia migraines eczema dizziness He passed horrendous gas Worst of all he barfed all the time He couldn't stop until he was dry heaving He feared visiting the homes of others for fear of fouling up their privies He even built his own hidden one Darwin's favorite child died at age ten thus ending any remnants of a religious faith The great thing about Darwin is all that he accomplished under these conditions A truly great man The great Edward O Wilson suggested there may be genetic roots to some social differences He was blasted for it Activists charged him onstage where he was in a wheelchair and threw ice water on him and shouting about genocide Idiots Some people thought of cloning Jesus himself by lifting DNA from the Shroud of Turin Ridiculous I know But it brought out this great comment You are trying to bring back the one person who is supposed to come back anyway There is a fucM gene in mice that can be changed to cause lesbians I have never been able to figure out the Darwinian conundrum about homosexuality It does not promote the species No answers yet Same with racial issues Unfortunately both are difficult to touch Croesus once went to hear the oracle at Delphi You will destroy a great empire Of course it turned out to be his own Our DNA is like an oracle Do we want to listen?

  10. says:

    This got off to a bad start for me when on page 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 too cutesy 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 pains not to use common terms such as punctuated 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 problem with this book was that there were no endnotes per sé Several times I wanted to know where Kean was getting his information and whomwhat he was paraphrasing but had nowhere to go There is a Selected Bibliography the list of books and papers 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 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 358 pages

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