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The Violinist's Thumb

And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code
Kean, Sam (Book - 2012 )
Average Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
The Violinist's Thumb
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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"-- Provided by publisher.
Authors: Kean, Sam
Title: The violinist's thumb
and other lost tales of love, war, and genius, as written by our genetic code
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Co., 2012
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: ix, 401 p. :,ill. ;,25 cm
Statement of Responsibility: Sam Kean
Contents: 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
Summary: "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"-- Provided by publisher.
ISBN: 9780316182317
0316182311
Branch Call Number: 572.8 K243v 2012
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 385-389) and index
Subject Headings: Genetics Popular works Human genetics Miscellanea
Topical Term: Genetics
Human genetics
LCCN: 2012007029
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Library Staff

There are genes to explain crazy cat ladies, why other people have no fingerprints, and why some people survive nuclear bombs. Genes can explain a lot, including JFK's bronze skin (it wasn't a tan) to Einstein's genius.


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Jul 25, 2014
  • ClaireM_W rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I heartily agree - this is a great book.

Jul 17, 2014
  • delfon rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is a review of genetic discoveries. One finds humanity is only 2% of our makeup, most of us are virus's, or junk. An entertaining easy to read explanation which seems more up to date then; it appears, some of our research laboratories. Especially when it comes to degenerative diseases.

Oct 03, 2013
  • Drayjayeff rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

-a fun read. Kean is witty and irreverent. There are some great yarns in The Violinist's Thumb. He's also remarkably adept at elucidating complex scientific concepts for non-scientists.

Mar 08, 2013
  • sess430 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

As Mr. Kean states in the introduction, "this is a book about DNA." I appreciated learning a lot of new information that has been added about genetics since I took a course in the '80s. It is written in a lively style, accessible to most readers, although some of it seemed overly sensational. Scientists have retroactively diagnosed illnesses and explained unique abilities of famous people, such as Paganini, Darwin, Lincoln, Einstein, John Kennedy, among others. Overall, it's a very good book with an extensive bibliography included for further reading.

Aug 15, 2012
  • nats310 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Kean writes in an approachable style, breaking down complex scientific theories for the layperson well. Fascinating tidbits throughout about what happens when DNA functions well. . . and those times it doesn't. Also, interesting information about epigenetics and the role of environment and biochemical influences in turning on/off genes.

Aug 04, 2012
  • mswendybe rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Awesome book about genes. I found the first chapter a little slow, but I'm happy I stuck with it. A history of the science of DNA, and you needn't have studied it in school to understand this book.

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Version pocillo (pocillo) Last updated 2014/08/29 09:56