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The Violinist's Thumb: And Other Lost…

The Violinist's Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius,…

by Sam Kean

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Not as layman-friendly as, say, Bill Bryson or Mary Roach. A lot of these concepts are familiar from high school biology class, but it's been almost 15 years. I did get what I came for, the story behind Paganini's freakishly flexible fingers, and a few more stories about royal inbreeding and the retrodiagnosed illnesses of other famous historical figured. But I skimmed over the text when it started to sound like a lecture, and did not care much for the chapter about the Human Genome Project and all the scientist cat fights.

Would recommend as supplementary reading material to someone taking up genetics in school. Best read while the material is still fresh in the mind. ( )
  mrsrobin | Jun 24, 2017 |
Lots of trivia ( )
  Baku-X | Jan 10, 2017 |
Everything about DNA you could possibly wish to know explained in a witty and lively manner by the author of The Disappearing Spoon. I can’t get enough of Sam Kean’s books. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
This was a highly interesting look at the world of DNA and genetics -- how genes work, how they mutate and cause things to go wrong, and how they help species evolve. Each chapter seeks to answer a different question about DNA and the book as a whole illustrates how DNA was discovered, the contributions made by various famous (and lesser-known) scientific figures, and what advances could be made in medical science in the future if we gain even more knowledge about our genes. It's worth reading if you liked Kean's other book, The Disappearing Spoon, or if you like books about science that make you stop periodically to read some amazing or mind-boggling fact out loud to whoever's in the room. ( )
  rabbitprincess | May 26, 2016 |
NY Times Book Review Podcast August 2012
  ValNewHope | Mar 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
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Kean, Samprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Olofsson, BjörnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Staehle, WillCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Genes, freaks, DNA : how do living things pass down traits to their children? --The near death of Darwin : why did geneticists try to kill natural selection? --Them's the DNA breaks : how does nature read - and misread - DNA? --The musical scores of DNA : what kinds of information does DNA store? --DNA vindication : why did life evolve so slowly - then explode in complexity? --The survivors, the livers : what's our most ancient and important DNA? --The Machiavelli microbe : how much human DNA is actually human? --Love and atavisms : what genes make mammals mammals? --Humanzees and other near misses : when did humans break away from monkeys, and why? --Scarlet A's, C's, G's, and T's : why did humans almost go extinct? --Size matters : how did humans get such grotesquely large brains? --The art of the gene : how deep in our DNA is artistic genius? --The past is prologue - sometimes : what can (and can't) genes teach us about historical heroes? --Three billion little pieces : why don't humans have more genes than other species? --Easy come, easy go? : how come identical twins aren't identical? --Life as we do (and don't) know it : what the heck will happen now? --Epilogue : genomics gets personal.
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"In The Disappearing Spoon, bestselling author Sam Kean unlocked the mysteries of the periodic table. In THE VIOLINIST'S THUMB, he explores the wonders of the magical building block of life: DNA. There are genes to explain crazy cat ladies, why other people have no fingerprints, and why some people survive nuclear bombs. Genes illuminate everything from JFK's bronze skin (it wasn't a tan) to Einstein's genius. They prove that Neanderthals and humans bred thousands of years more recently than any of us would feel comfortable thinking. They can even allow some people, because of the exceptional flexibility of their thumbs and fingers, to become truly singular violinists. Kean's vibrant storytelling once again makes science entertaining, explaining human history and whimsy while showing how DNA will influence our species' future"--… (more)

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