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

2 journalers for this copy...

Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Sunday, December 15, 2013

8 out of 10

I enjoyed the author's book The Disappearing Spoon, so I was glad to get this new book from a friend for Christmas. As with the previous book, this one darts from topic to topic, bringing up intriguing connections and surprising incidents, and I enjoyed it very much. [The author also challenged readers to find a DNA-related acrostic, but after a couple of brief stabs at it I gave up; if someone else persists, please do let me know what it said!]

The book covers the early researches into genetics, the extensive use of fruit flies (and the hilarious range of names chosen for the different genes: I had no idea there was an "armadillo" gene, never mind the "pokemon" one - though the latter was changed to "zbtb7", allegedly to avoid legal action by the Pokemon lawyers, who didn't like the idea of a potentially-cancer-triggering gene being associated with their cute little critters. (Then again, that would explain a lot about the mutant powers of Pokemon, wouldn't it?)

A discussion of the effects of radiation on genes led to the story of Tsutomu Yamaguchi, a man who survived the Hiroshima bomb - and then went home to Nagasaki in time to survive that one, too...

A tantalizing chapter called "The Musical Score of DNA" speculates on the kinds of information that DNA might store, and raised the subject of "knot theory" - which applies to literal knots in string, and which, it turns out, can be applied to biological strands, such as (surprise!) DNA.

Other chapters deal with "the Machiavellian Microbe" (including references to the genes of extinct retroviruses that can still be found embedded in human DNA, and to the theory that the toxoplasmosis parasite might actually make people more likely to hoard cats), "Love and Atavisms" (which raises the touchy concept of the fetus-as-parasite), the trials and tribulations of paleogeneticists, the tantalizing cases where DNA research might help solve historical mysteries, the concept of using DNA as a computer (for data storage or even to solve certain kinds of problems), and much more.

There are personal notes here and there, such as the author's experience with genetic testing for the likelihood of inherited health problems; that one touches on the science behind it all, as well as the psychology of risk-assessment. And there are copious end notes (opening with "Welcome to the endnotes!" and an invitation to flip back and forth or to wait and read them all at once); there's some dandy stuff in there, too.  

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Wednesday, February 26, 2014

This book has not been rated.

Released 4 yrs ago (2/26/2014 UTC) at Nashua, New Hampshire USA


I'm sending this to BCer hyphen8 in Hawaii to fill a wish. Hope you enjoy it!

*** Released as part of the Head Shoulders Knees Toes challenge. *** 

Journal Entry 3 by winghyphen8wing at Honolulu, Hawaii USA on Thursday, March 13, 2014

This book has not been rated.

What a nice surprise, complete with stamps for Mom! Thank you very much for thinking of me.

Amusingly, I was just looking at my (so far unregistered) copy of The Disappearing Spoon earlier this week and decided if I started it, it wouldn't be finished in time for your Wine + Food + BookCrossing challenge..I haven't found something to release for that yet.

(Larger photo here.) 

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