PANIC in LEVEL 4 Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science
Registered by rockyhorror1978 of St. Catharines, Ontario Canada on 2/27/2009
1 journaler for this copy...
"The title of New Yorker contributor Preston's new collection refers to the subject of his bestselling The Hot Zone: a series of rooms in a government biohazard laboratory where scientists work with virulent pathogens like the Ebola viruses that would be devastating in the hands of terrorists. The essays (all from the New Yorker) cover such scientific matters as a profile of controversial über-genome mapper Craig Venter; a gene that leads people to cannibalize themselves; and two Russian-Jewish émigré scientists who built a monster computer in their cramped apartment to puzzle out patterns in the value of pi. Preston's essay on the destruction of large swaths of eastern U.S. forests by insect parasites accidentally brought into the country from abroad is the shortest but most compelling. Preston might have done more to update his pieces; for example, the Marburg virus was found in bats last year, supporting his hypothesis that they are the reservoir for Ebola. But Preston's fans will enjoy his showing how few degrees of separation there are between far-flung areas of scientific endeavors."
I picked up this book thinking it was just about viruses at the CDC. As it turns out, it was a collection of short articles about different scientific phenomena. It’s unfortunate that the book started with an article about mathematicians looking for all of the digits in Pi since I almost put the book down due to lack of interest. Fortunately I persisted and the remaining articles were interesting to read. Having been written in 2008, I’m sure science has progressed from what is written (e.g., Ebola outbreak in 2014), it is still interesting to read what was observed at this time. Having an interest in genetic syndromes, the last chapter on Lesch-Nyman syndrome was one of my favourite chapters. Anyone with in an interest in science journalism will enjoy this book.