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is a compelling account of decades of research into a family of diseases ranging from kuru in primitive human tribes to scrapie in sheep. Richard Rhodes traces the attempts of scientists to understand these strange diseases, which are now known to be transmitted by ingesting the brain or nervous tissue of infected creatures, even though the pathogen itself is an enigma that seems to be neither bacterial nor viral. Deadly Feasts is packed with historical, anthropological, and epidemiological detail, and is graphic and occasionally even alarming in its speculations.”

9.

Evolutionary Wars: A Three-Billion-Year Arms Race—the Battle of Species on Land, at Sea, and in the Air. By Charles Kingsley Levy. (Freeman, 300 pp, 1999) General audience. “Describes how various species of bacteria, fungi, insects, worms, reptiles, birds and mammals have fought each other over hundreds of millions of years to survive. We can see the results of this arms race all around us every day.”

10.

Flu; The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It.By Gina Kolata. (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 330 pp, 1999) GFBR****. Teen-Adult. .  The 1918 flu epidemic killed tens of millions of people all around the world, (including 2 aunts and an uncle that I never met) -- more than were killed in World War I, but almost nobody who lived through it ever mentioned it again. What happened, and why, and can it happen again?

11.

Life On Earth. By David Attenborough. (Little Brown, 319 pp, 1980) GFBR*****. Teen-adult. “In this unique book, David Attenborough has undertaken nothing less than a history of nature, from the emergence of tiny one-celled organisms in the primeval slime more than 3,000 million years ago to apelike but upright man, equally well adapted to life in the rain forest of New Guinea and the glass canyons of a modern metropolis.”  Has wonderful pictures, great descriptions, very original.

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River out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life. By Richard Dawkins.  (Basic Books, 172 pp, 1995) GFBR **** Teen-Adult. “Nearly a century and a half after Charles Darwin formulated it, the theory of evolution is still the subject of considerable debate. Oxford scientist Richard Dawkins is among Darwin's chief defenders, and an able one indeed-- witty, literate, capable of turning a beautiful phrase. In River Out of Eden he introduces general readers to some fairly abstract problems in evolutionary biology, gently guiding us through the tangles of mitochondrial DNA and the survival-of-the- fittest ethos. (Superheroes need not apply: Dawkins writes, ‘The genes that survive . . . will be the ones that are good at surviving in the average environment of the species.’) Dawkins argues for the essential unity of humanity, noting that ‘we are much closer cousins of one another than we normally realize, and we have many fewer ancestors than simple calculations suggest.’"

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The Secret Life of Dust: From the Cosmost to the Kitchen Counter, the Big Consequences of Little Things. By Hannah Holmes. (Wiley & Sons, 240 pp, 2001) GFBR **** General audiences. “Despite its ubiquity, dust is not a popular subject among scientists, and lay people tend to brush it off. But Holmes, a science and natural history writer for the Discovery Channel Online, teases many tantalizing facts from this particulate microscopic substance. ‘[P]olar researchers are drinking water that fell as snow during the crusades,’ for instance. ‘Hundreds of years' worth of dust has piled up on the well floor,’ most of it ‘space dust,’ as ‘only a small amount of windblown Earth dusts’ reach Antarctica. Some readers may be turned off or sent on a wild cleaning frenzy by much of the information: ‘you breathe about 700,000 of your own skin flakes each day,’ for instance, or ‘a cup of flour... isn't legally filthy until it contains about 150 insect fragments and a couple of rodent hairs.’ And some of her more harrowing facts might inspire minor lifestyle changes: household dust is comprised of all manner of toxic materials, like ‘widely produced’ chromium and mercury metals, pesticides, and herbicides, and ‘the average child eats 15 or 20 milligrams of dust a day, and superslurpers eat 30 to 50 milligrams.’ While factoid set-pieces run the show here, Holmes's tours through the science behind them are lucid. Allergy sufferers and other interested parties will relish this book; others

Science and Math Books You Can Read – page 10 out of 30

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