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Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony
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Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  393 ratings  ·  31 reviews
This magnificent collection of essays by scientist and National Book Award-winning writer Lewis Thomas remains startlingly relevant for today's world. Luminous, witty, and provocative, the essays address such topics as "The Attic of the Brain, " "Falsity and Failure, " "Altruism, " and the effects of the federal government's virtual abandonment of support for basic scienti ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published May 1st 1995 by Penguin Books (first published 1983)
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Por lo visto no aprendo. A pesar de que el anterior (y único hasta ahora) libro del autor no me gustó nada, como me compré dos en el VIPS tenía que leerlo.
No es que el libro sea malo. Pero trata temas que no me interesan. No son grandes logros científicos, ni puntos de vista que hagan pensar, ni asuntos que conciernan a todo el mundo. Es como pedirle a un oficinista gris que escriba su opinión sobre la tecnología y publicarla. No sería interesante.
Iso Cambia
The chloroplasts in today's green plants, which capitalize on the sun's energy to produce the oxygen in the atmosphere, are the lineal descendants of ancient blue-green algae. The mitochondria in all our cells, which utilizes the oxygen for storing energy from plant food, are the progeny of ancient oxidative bacteria. Collectively, we are still, in a fundamental sense, a tissue of microbial organisms living off the sun, decorated and ornamented these days by the elaborate architectural structure ...more
"This magnificent third collection of essays by Lewis Thomas will both reassure and surprise his many devoted readers. Among its luminous and witty pieces, enthusiasts will applaud 'The Attic of the Brain,' 'Falsity and Failure,' 'On Smell,' a three-page masterpiece on 'Altruism,' as well as many other 'notes of a biology watcher.'

"In further, even more provocative essays, Dr. Thomas explores the federal government's virtual abandonment of support for basic scientific research, and suggests the
Nicolas Shump
I first read Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony in high school. Thomas was a medical doctor, cancer researcher, and contributor of short essays about medicine and science to the New England Journal of Medicine and other publications. This included some of those, but also had other essays about nuclear war and the arts and humanities.
It is in some ways a period peace as during the mid 1980s Thomas was seriously worried about the prospect of nuclear annihilation at the ha
Jake Berlin
as always, thomas writes beautifully, and the range of subjects -- not to mention his depth of insight -- put your mind at work. there's maybe a little too much about nuclear war, but given when these essays were written, that makes sense, and it essentially makes for a slightly outdated but interesting historical document. then again, there are plenty of sections not about nuclear war, which are more or less timeless.
Shawn Dvorak
Lewis Thomas was a multi-talented physician, poet, and science popularized. This book is wide-ranging collection of essays, mostly about the relationship between the "hard" and "soft" sciences. Although some of the themes are a bit dated (several were focused on the dangers of the nuclear arms race rampant in the early 80s when this was written) most are more timeless.
Penney Kolb
This book of essays published in 1983 is a series of meditations on science, philosophy, and art and is surprisingly prescient. so much of what he discussed is relevant to today. I was very happy to have read this. Actually I picked it out of my shelves because the 9th is special to me (The Resurrection Symphony).
"Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony" is the title and the last chapter of the book, which contains 24 short, non-fiction essays. Lewis Thomas, a scientist and a medical doctor, especially emphasizes the relationship between science and humanity as well as the destructive power of science in the invention of nuclear weapon. Throughout the book he discusses humanity from different angles, and a nuclear war, obviously linked to the Cold War because the book was published in ...more
Physician Thomas was a bit of a science popularizer, with a penchant for reflecting on the connections between the "hard" and the "soft" sciences. Many of the essays in this 1983 collection seem to wend themselves to the theme of the madness of mutually assured destruction via nuclear war; it reflects the Cold War context of the book but is not really dated, since the threat of warfare persists with the ceaseless proliferation of rivalries. Thomas connects a lot of dots in exploring our curious ...more
Henry Wright
Great perspective on the world, science, human devt
Rob James
I recently read this collection of essays while listening to David Sedaris's newest essay collection, When You are Engulfed in Flames. While the two books are nothing alike, I enjoyed them both. Thomas obviously loves language and science. His love of science can actually make a reader lament not pursuing science. I am making it a poing to pick up more of Thomas's work. I originally, like my Goodreads friends LeAnn and Chris, read this book for a high school class. It remains a good read today.
Nicolas Shump
I read this in high school. Thomas was a medical doctor, cancer researcher, and contributor of short essays about medicine and science to the New England Journal of Medicine and other publications. This included some of those, but also had other essays about nuclear war and the arts and humanities. An beautifully written book. Thomas' work is one of the reasons I enjoy the essay so much as a literary genre.

Steve Nay
This is an insightful series of essays ranging from the deadly serious opener, "The Unforgettable Fire", to the tongue-in-cheek "On Smell", to the exhortative "The Problem of Dementia". Thomas discusses biomedical science, thermonuclear weapons, the evolution of language, and much in between. While some of his essays feel dated, the issues and ideas are still largely relevant in 2014.
Alice Sather
I read this first in the early 80's and just re-read it. While a few essays are out-dated, others have one wondering how he could read the future as clearly as he did, and seem more urgent now than ever.
A little dated, as this is written by 1983. The situations are progressed in time now, somewhat. For example: though global warming is now a major front line issue; it was then considered something that will be front line in the future.

Otherwise, this is a major thought-provoking book of essays.

Lewis Thomas is always worth reading.
He had some interesting ideas, but he didn't flesh them out or include any research on them, which drove me crazy. I felt like he thought that since he is a scientist his ideas are better or so original. At least the book wasn't hard to read.
Sandra Kinzer
I like how L. Thomas combines aspects of the humanities (poetry and such) with science (biology). I love how he's so poetic at times. His commentary on bombs and the Soviet Union got kinda old though, since I'm reading this in 2013.
I read this book in my early 20's, and it created quite an impression, because I'm almost 50 and still it comes to mind when I list, in my head, books I've read. I'd like to find a copy and re read it.
An enjoyable read written by a man who likes to think. And better still, he thinks at an analog speed, if you know what I mean. A refreshing phenomenon in the midst of the nanosecond internet digi-world.
I picked this book up when it was remaindered. At the time it was current, and I haven't read it since. It'd be interested to reread it, to see how it's stood up.
Jerrilynn Lilyblade
Mar 03, 2012 Jerrilynn Lilyblade marked it as to-read
I registered a book at!
Terry Bonner
The essay on "Altruism" was my first real introduction to sociobiology. It was a personal moment of epiphany for which I will always be grateful.
One of the most thought-provoking collections of essays I've ever read. The title essay, in particular, is frightening and compelling.
Well -- that didn't work -- read this one as it was a reading list selection for CR -- as usual a good experience.
Rebecca Thieme-baeseman
Good food for thought. Some essays a little dense. Many points and issues are similar to today.
Mar 14, 2008 Ted rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: science
Short essays about us and our world. Perfect for bedtime reading.
Another strong collection of Thomas's essays.
A better title than literary effort.
I need to find better books.
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Lewis Thomas (November 25, 1913–December 3, 1993) was a physician, poet, etymologist, essayist, administrator, educator, policy advisor, and researcher.

Thomas was born in Flushing, New York and attended Princeton University and Harvard Medical School. He became Dean of Yale Medical School and New York University School of Medicine, and President of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute. His formative
More about Lewis Thomas...
The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher The Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of a Biology Watcher The Youngest Science Fragile Species Et Cetera, Et Cetera: Notes of a Word-Watcher

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“Animals have genes for altruism, and those genes have been selected in the evolution of many creatures because of the advantage they confer for the continuing survival of the species.” 2 likes
“...the life of the planet began the long, slow process of modulating and regulating the physical conditions of the planet. The oxygen in today's atmosphere is almost entirely the result of photosynthetic living, which had its start with the appearance of blue-green algae among the microorganisms.” 1 likes
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