Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life
I'm a product of a fairly shallow educational system that did almost nothing to teach me biolog ...more
I'm a microbiologist-in-training, and to start out with, it's rare t ...more
Incidentally, I have a hard time with figures like virus spreading genes "4 quadrillion times each second" beneath the ocean. And estimating the beginnings of life and so on. Astronomic numbers get thrown around so casually that they really lose their meaning. That part of it comes off vague and fuzzy.
The narrative was really formulaic as well ...more
I find I get the most out of science writing when it's on a subject outside my expertise. I loved Parasite Rex f ...more
As I would expect fr ...more
The fact that E. coli lives within us, and almost no one takes notice is an amazing fact in and of itself. Though it can be (and is) argued that we would not be here were it no ...more
Escherichia coli bacteria was discovered by the German-Austrian pediatrician Theodor Escherich. He found it in baby diapers.
E. coli inhabit the human colon and most strains of E. coli are beneficial, not pathogens. In fact, most of the bacteria in your colon are non-pathogenic. When you take antibiotics to kill pathogenic bacteria, the antibiotics often also kill friendly bacteria, resulting in diarrhea.
E. coli bacteria in the intestines neutralize acid by...more
"If you are interested in how living things work down at the cellular level, then this is a good time to be alive. It is not, however, an equally good time to be reading popular-science books. While evolution gets a lot of ink devoted to it, in part because it is fascinating and in part because some people, absurdly, continue to see it as problematic, the molecular processes that evolution shapes go comparatively unsung. ...more
I picked up Microcosm in part because the description compares the book to Lives ...more
Carl Zimmer is one of my favorite science writers, precisely because I know how difficult it is to walk the fine line between explaining the intricacies of science and not overwhelming readers with abstruse detail. In general, Zimmer does a fine job of this in Microcosm, in which he explores just how important the humble, ubiquitous bacterium E. Coli has been in everything from understanding how evolution works to how diverse life is to how to produce valuable drugs through genetic engineering.
In Microcosm, Carl Zimmer explores both the function of E. coli and its prodigious role in scie ...more
Interesting throughout, not too long and not too short, I never felt that it was dragging on.
All along the way ...more
Even so, I never fully understood the mechanism of how artificial selection pressure causes hyper-mutation in bacteria, and Zimmer eloquen ...more
I found it at time ...more
I don't exactly r ...more
I found out about Carl Zimmer from his collection of Science Tattoos. I began following his blog, The Loom, and found his writing to be interesting and very readable. A colleague of mine and I started talking about him (she had recently gotten a science tattoo!) and she highly recommended Microcosm.
A short summary would be either how E. coli changed the world, or it could be how the world changed E. coli. Science, research, disease, ethics, possibilities, consequences, history, space, ...more
Full article in Mar/Apr 2009 issue of BBC Know ...more