The Violinist's Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code

The Violinist s Thumb And Other Lost Tales of Love War and Genius as Written by Our Genetic Code In The Disappearing Spoon bestselling author Sam Kean unlocks 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

  • Title: The Violinist's Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code
  • Author: Sam Kean
  • ISBN: 9780316182317
  • Page: 182
  • Format: Hardcover
  • In The Disappearing Spoon, bestselling author Sam Kean unlocks 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 itIn The Disappearing Spoon, bestselling author Sam Kean unlocks 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 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 makes science entertaining, explaining human history and whimsy while showing how DNA will influence our species future.

    One thought on “The Violinist's Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code”

    1. I'm going to be honest and tell you the entire reason I picked up The Violinist's Thumb by Sam Kean is not because I'm interested in biology or DNA or anything to do with science really - it's because the name Paganini drew me in.I've never been the type of girl to understand science. The closest I came was a low C in Biology 14 years ago when I attended the University of Wyoming. Ever since then I've operated under the assumption that magic sparkles course through my veins, that storks bring ba [...]

    2. What I learned from reading Sam Kean’s The Violinist’s Thumb and Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code (Little, Brown and Company, 2012):I should never eat polar bear liver—unless I want my skin to peel off from foot to head.My cats’ presence soothes me because the Toxoplasma gondii parasites they carry manufacture dopamine, which has a feel-good effect on the human brain.Whales and dolphins have hair (what Kean calls “a comb-over”). A Russian scie [...]

    3. In Kean’s follow up to The Disappearing Spoon he keeps the same breezy form but switches his subject from chemistry to genetics. While we get more science history and anecdotal stories than pure science, we still learn much about how our genome works. Kean writes for the general reader. Using his tongue in cheek style, he delivers short vignettes of scientists and famous people with genetic peculiarities.The book begins with Darwin and Mendel and follows their ideas up through double helix dis [...]

    4. This is a very good, and entertaining survey of the history of genetics. I learned a great deal about DNA, how it works, and how scientists are trying to unravel its secrets.Every chapter contains some fascinating facts, histories, and insights. For example, Kean makes analogies between music, linguistics, and the structure of DNA. The frequency of various notes in classical music follows a power law. The frequency of words in literature also follows a power law. Note: Kean does not mention the [...]

    5. Kean manages to cram enough information into this book to satisfy the armchair historian, biologist, or trivia aficionado, while somehow keeping it readable and entertaining.It's a rather monumental task, combining the history of science with the latest discoveries. He's pretty good about explaining without talking down. I think he assumed most of his readers would be like me--took bio in high school and have vaguely kept up with discoveries announced in the press, but have to shamefacedly admit [...]

    6. The author's parents were named Gene and Jean. That's right: Gene and Jean Kean. What else could their son do but write a book about genetics? And a fun book it is, with some fascinating stories. There is enough DNA in a human body to stretch from Pluto to the sun and back. There's enough DNA on earth to stretch across the known universe many, many times. Fruit fly genes have fun names, such as groucho, smurf, fear of intimacy, lost in space, smellblind, faint sausage, tribble (from the Star Tre [...]

    7. 'The Violinist's Thumb' is a perfect read for girding up one's loins for holiday dinners where lots of family members plan to attend. Not only are the stories the author relates of the foibles and craziness of world-famous scientists who were involved in historic and present studies that have impacted knowledge about DNA give one preparation for facing down your more ordinary intolerable relatives, the chapters which actually explain DNA may provide insight on why you can't stand some blood rela [...]

    8. I was a great fan of Sam Kean’s The Disappearing Spoon, so it was excellent to see a followup in The Violinist’s Thumb. The violinist in question was Paganini who had a genetic disorder that enabled him to bend his thumb back far beyond the usual limit. And this is an indirect hint about the subject of the book – DNA and our genetic code.This is, without doubt, a very good book. A quote from New Scientist on the front compares Sam Kean’s writing to that of Bill Bryson – I think this de [...]

    9. Fun. Covers everything from the attempt to breed humanzees and why humans have 46 rather than 48 chromosomes, to why you should decline any invitation to eat polar bear liver.

    10. ***NO SPOILERS***This is an intriguing but brainy read that requires not just an interest in biology but a good understanding of it. Readers should be prepared to harken back to biology class(es) to recall that A pairs with T, and C pairs with G on the DNA strand--and that’s one of the easier parts of this book. Nevertheless, the book contains enough concrete, easier-to-grasp ideas and information to keep the content from ever being dry. There’s also something to be said for Sam Kean’s eng [...]

    11. As usual, the actual contents of this Netgalley book came as a bit of a surprise – really? I requested a book about DNA? How unusual. And it is, very; I like a book which will feed me good solid science which has been cut into easily digested pieces rather than either handed to me whole or reduced to baby food, but I haven't read one in some time. The fact that I was thinking of polar bear livers while typing that last sentence is an indication of how well this book has done its job.Do I now u [...]

    12. This got off to a bad start for me, when on page 33 Kean equated Darwinian natural selection and "survival of the fittest." (Herbert Spencer and/or "social Darwinism" were never mentioned.) Then, in an incendiary chapter on cats and toxoplasmosis ("toxo") he never explains that a cat who has lived indoors all its life cannot carry/transmit the disease. Then . what else? The tone was too cutesy and much of the material was too simplistic - glossing over opposing viewpoints, or assuming the reader [...]

    13. I enjoyed this book, and I learned a number of things, but I also felt a little disappointed by it. It was a fairly easy read, not requiring much science knowledge, and it was well written, with humor and a relaxed story-telling vibe. But I felt that it lacked a cohesive purpose. The author told a lot of stories about what genes can do and have done, and they were all interesting and enjoyable to read. But at the end of the book, I still felt that I didn't understand a lot about how genes work a [...]

    14. Science!Kean’s newest nonfiction book traces the history of DNA, from humankind’s earliest attempts to understand how life develops through to the implications of working with the recently unzipped human genome. There’s plenty of hard science that introduces the structure and inner workings of chromosomes, but the book is definitely written for the layperson.Much like Mary Roach’s works, The Violinist’s Thumb is divided into thematic chapters that are composed of related vignettes that [...]

    15. The Violinist's Thumb tells the story of the genetic code through the stories of the scientists who made discoveries about the genetic code, people affected by genetic mutations, and others. And the book is fascinating. I don't really have any science background to speak of, but I was pretty well able to follow the descriptions of the scientific information.How I found this book was through the author's blog on Slate found here, where he shared some of the stories from the book in a shortened fo [...]

    16. Wow, just wow . I'm glad that I found this book , the information in it is very important for the audience to know , after reading this book you'll understand how your genes are responsible for propensity to addiction, illnesses, deformation and even to genius. Highly recommend it to anyone interested into learning the language in which human life is based .

    17. DNA. It’s in all of us but did you know it tells a story? Both of the human race and its own story of discovery. The Violinist’s Thumb is not only an introduction to the science of DNA but a trip through history from Mendel to the Human Genome Project and Neanderthals to crazy cat people.My knowledge of DNA comes from high school biology, Jurassic Park and numerous crime shows and books, so I’m by no means in a position to understand high-brow scientific tomes. Instead, Sam Kean manages to [...]

    18. Pretty much all of us know that DNA is what makes us, well, us. But few of us non-scientists really understand what that means. Through a bit of hard science, a little history, just a touch of humour, and some fascinating anecdotes, author San Kean sets out to rectify this in his marvelous book, The Violinist's Thumb. Kean explains in simple and rather poetic terms, for example, the difference between DNA and genes. "DNA", he tells us, "is a thing - a chemical which sticks to your fingers" while [...]

    19. THE VIOLINIST’S THUMB and other lost tales of love, war, and genius, as written by our genetic code. (2012). Sam Kean. *****. Aside from the title, this is an excellent survey of what is known about DNA and the genetic code to date, using clear expository writing along with vignettes about the people involved known only to ‘insiders.’ The author’s previous book, “The Disappearing Spoon,” showed that he knew how to write and to hold the reader’s interest. He also seemed to have the [...]

    20. I enjoyed The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements, a book that tackled the periodic table and the history behind it. The book included a range of humorous side stories that surrounded elemental discoveries/use/dangers. Stories such as the unfortunate Stan Jones who, through his own sloppy self-experimentation, ingested too much silver and turned blue, FOREVER. A real life Papa Smurf. But the book was also [...]

    21. I read quite a number of biology books and am often put off by the old gene jocks who focus on DNA, to the exclusion of epigenetic and other environmental factors that challenge the old and tired narrative of the gene centered theory of evolution. When I saw the title of this book, I felt pretty sure I wasn't going to like it, but many of my friends gave it high ratings. So, I thought I would give it a shot. Loved it!Just as he did with Disappearing Spoon, Kean brought a fresh perspective to an [...]

    22. I majored in biology in college, with an emphasis on molecular biology, so I've spent many hours reading about DNA and learning about how it works. I've even worked in a lab with genetically modified mice, and isolated RNA sequences. However, in school, things like DNA are usually treated in a pretty abstract way, and it's easy to forget the human side of "human DNA." This book does give some educational overview, but its real strength is the stories it tells.After years in the world of the huma [...]

    23. This book reads like a year's worth of blog posts bound between two covers. The snarky, hipster, ironic tone grows ever more grating. Use of words and phrases like "natch," "they threw up in their mouths," "then, just for fun, his marriage fell apart" are absolutely the way people of my age group would tell each other these stories in person, but when in the process of writing, editing, and publishing a book, it's time to grow up a bit, don't you think? It's an unfortunate distraction, since the [...]

    24. Very scientific; the majority of the book is a primer in what DNA is, how it works, and the scientists who have played a part in its history. There are interesting narratives involving DNA, for example why crazy cat hoarders are the way they are, but I felt I had to work for them, I.e. The equivalent of taking a college exam in genetics. (Which, by the way, I did, and made an A in!)Recommended only for those very interested in science and not just the beach reading type!

    25. Reading Sam Kean is like eating popcorn. Tastes great, somewhat filling, and mildly nutritious, but somehow it leaves you feeling a bit empty. I’ve now read two of Kean’s books – The Disappearing Spoon and The Violinist’s Thumb, and I greatly enjoyed both. He covers lots of ground and makes it interesting and entertaining. In this book, he covers the history of DNA and genetics from the early 1800s until today and hits all the major and even the minor players – Lamarck, Cuvier, Darwin, [...]

    26. *A full executive-style summary of this book is available here: newbooksinbrief/2012/08/01In a sense the story of DNA has two strands. On the one hand, as the blueprint of all that lives and the mechanism of heredity, DNA tells the story of life (and the history of life), from the smallest, simplest microbe, to we human beings, who have managed to figure all of this out. Of course, there is still much about DNA that we don't know. But given that we didn't even know of its existence until a lowly [...]

    27. AGone BookserkPerspective I previously read Sam Kean's book The Disappearing Spoon. I love it! Now, I decided to read The Violinist's Thumb for the same reason I loved The Disappearing Spoon, and that's because I love Sam Kean's writing. He definitely has a talent for writing about science. There's something really special about the way he tells human stories, especially when it comes to science. I thoroughly enjoyed, both of his books, even though the second lacked a little bit in my expectatio [...]

    28. Have you ever wanted to hoard cats? Did you know that there's a sonic hedgehog gene that can make your skin peel off? Can you fathom that pheromones could make you fall in love?The Violinist's Thumb contains chapters on all of these topics - it combines shocking facts with biological premises with the history of DNA discovery. For those who love biology Sam Kean incorporates an inundation of knowledge in this book. His writing never gets too long-winded or lackadaisical; his humor is refreshing [...]

    29. Another fun Sam Kean book. Like his earlier book The Disappearing Spoon that tackled the periodic table, Kean explores DNA and genetics in his latest with a fun and lighthearted approach. The science here is targeted heavily toward the layperson and he does a fine job introducing genetics to the unfamiliar. And he had some really great stories: the guy who was victim to BOTH Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the vicious rivalries of the Human Genome Project. Also like the Disappearing Spoon his silliness [...]

    30. Started this as a break from a series I'm deeply involved in reading, and found myself thinking about the video explaining dinosaur DNA that is part of the **Jurassic Park** movie. Some of this seems like very dumbed-down science and other parts are very detailed. I found myself skipping around, and certainly my eyes glazed over in some places, where the tech-speak was just too much to absorb. Some of the information about the huge advances in DNA research and analysis is just mind-boggling, thi [...]

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *