Since this book was written seven years ago, the information in it undoubtedly needs to be updated, but it is also depressing to realize how much remaSince this book was written seven years ago, the information in it undoubtedly needs to be updated, but it is also depressing to realize how much remains the same: doctors are still over-prescribing antibiotics and the use of probiotics to treat (or prevent) disease is still considered fringe for the most part (although I think that everybody now knows that the bacteria in yogurt will help your digestive system, thanks to those Activa commercials.) And nowhere have I heard that probiotics will help moderate allergies -- which is my own experience -- or that there is solid science and success in treating autoimmune disease and even cancer with probiotic bacteria. Alternative health sites on the Internet do promote the use of probiotic foods to cure all ills, but their claims are often sorely lacking the science to back them up. This book gives you the science, and also helps to weed through the hype that is out there.
It isn't a diet and self-help book; it's a piece of science writing for a popular audience. As such, it takes a lot of complicated science and makes it understandable. It's also a terrifying book in many ways, because it documents the rise and spread of antibiotic infections such as MRSA and C.difficile. So if you're the sort of person who is terrified by reading about that sort of thing, you might want to approach this book in small doses. But I think it *is* still an important book to read, perhaps in conjunction with a newer book such as Missing Microbes (2014)....more
Read this one all in one gulp -- yesterday and today. The best parts are his stories about growing up and how he became a scientist ("I Never Changed"Read this one all in one gulp -- yesterday and today. The best parts are his stories about growing up and how he became a scientist ("I Never Changed" is the title of one chapter). But I wish he would have left out the section(s) in which he criticizes both religion and the humanities for their "inabilities" to find out the "truth" of the world. I'll be passing along various chapters to my teens (especially to my daughter who *does* want to be a naturalist/biologist), but if it's *assigned* homeschool reading, I don't think I would assign the whole thing. And on the other hand, I think this is a very valuable read for the parent of a budding scientist; to sum up, encourage your child in his day-dreaming, don't worry if he isn't well-rounded, give him (or her) lots of free time (from the TV and other media, too), and if he or she isn't "good at math", it's still ok....more
I really wish that I could give this one 3.5 stars. The architectural principles and science were quite well-explained, but the book could have done wI really wish that I could give this one 3.5 stars. The architectural principles and science were quite well-explained, but the book could have done with more illustrations of the actual dome. I had to keep flipping to the one color photo of the finished dome provided on the back cover. The other problem I had with the book was the author's habit of adding somewhat sensationalistic details, which sometimes added nothing to the narrative.
All in all, though, a nice read. Not too taxing for a non-engineer or architect....more
While, as usual, I was a bit irked by the tendency of scientific authors to personify "Earth" and evolutionary processes (and plate techtonics, in thiWhile, as usual, I was a bit irked by the tendency of scientific authors to personify "Earth" and evolutionary processes (and plate techtonics, in this case) as a sort of substitute for God, this was an excellent story of how science is done -- how theories are made, how the personalities of the scientists involved affect the making of theories -- in addition to the science itself being fascinating. It's also a well-written book by a good story-teller....more
I'll be passing this book on to the kids when they're a little older. Excellent description of what being a field biologist is really like.
Just finishI'll be passing this book on to the kids when they're a little older. Excellent description of what being a field biologist is really like.
Just finished reading this last night and loved it, even through all the discussion of taking the thoracic temperature of insects. (Actually, that was fascinating, too; I had no idea that some insects can regulate their own temperatures, or that there are whole groups of moths which are active in the wintertime (in Maine!)) I liked this book for all the little details of nature which he notices and which make me wonder what I have been missing because I haven't looked closely enough. But mostly I liked the book for the autobiography that meanders through it. Bernd Heinrich was a young boy in Germany during World War II, and his description of the hardships of life immediately after the war are sobering. But it was interesting to me that he credited this abject poverty with the beginning of his lifelong fascination with the natural world. He had no toys to play with and needed to help hunt and gather to survive in the woods where they lived. He spent hours watching and collecting beetles. Of course it helped that his parents were also field biologists/naturalists, but as an American parent whose children have lots of toys... it makes you stop and think.