How did we come to have minds? For centuries, poets, philosophers, psychologists, and physicists have wondered how the human mind developed its unrivaled abilities. Disciples of Darwin have explained how natural selection produced plants, but what about the human mind?
In From Bacteria to Bach and Back, Daniel C. Dennett builds on recent discoveries from biology and computer science to show, step by step, how a comprehending mind could in fact have arisen from a mindless process of natural selection. A crucial shift occurred when humans developed the ability to share memes, or ways of doing things not based in genetic instinct. Competition among memes produced thinking tools powerful enough that our minds don’t just perceive and react, they create and comprehend.
An agenda-setting book for a new generation of philosophers and scientists, From Bacteria to Bach and Back will delight and entertain all those curious about how the mind works.
Every animal, whether human, squid, or wasp, is home to millions of bacteria and other microbes. Ed Yong, whose humor is as evident as his erudition, prompts us to look at ourselves and our animal companions in a new light—less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we assuredly are.
The microbes in our bodies are part of our immune systems and protect us from disease. In the deep oceans, mysterious creatures without mouths or guts depend on microbes for all their energy. Bacteria provide squid with invisibility cloaks, help beetles to bring down forests, and allow worms to cause diseases that afflict millions of people.
Many people think of microbes as germs to be eradicated, but those that live with us—the microbiome—build our bodies, protect our health, shape our identities, and grant us incredible abilities. In this astonishing book, Ed Yong takes us on a grand tour through our microbial partners, and introduces us to the scientists on the front lines of discovery. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it.
When most people hear the word "bacteria" they think of food poisoning; infections; and acute, debilitating, or fatal diseases. Yet, while E. coli, strep, and other bacterial pathogens certainly cause their share of misery in the world, they are only a tiny portion of a vast universe of microorganisms—the most basic of life forms. Without them, nothing else could live or grow on Planet Earth. Bacteria: The Benign, the Bad, and the Beautiful introduces you to this diverse, microscopic world and explains the fundamental microbiological concepts you need to explore the life and behavior of bacteria. Even if you have no previous background in the subject, the book's clear, jargon-free language tells you what you need to know about:
The origins and evolution of bacteria
Some of the fundamental ways in which bacteria have shaped the world
Bacteria commonly found in the healthy human body
Antibiotics and the growing problem of resistance
Marine microbiology, bacterial toxins, and enzymes
Bacterial genetics and genomics
Bacteria that survive in extreme environments, such as boiling water
And much more
This comprehensive guide features custom-drawn, black-and-white illustrations by artist Karoly Farkas, and it illuminates its points through real-world examples and engaging stories. Discrete, topic-by-topic structure, text-box summaries of background science, and a helpful glossary make for quick and easy reference. Whether you are a science professional in need of information on bacteria outside of your specialty, a student in search of a solid introduction, or a curious reader looking for fascinating and reliable information, Bacteria: The Benign, the Bad, and the Beautiful is the resource you need.
Ebola, SARS, Hendra, AIDS, and countless other deadly viruses all have one thing in common: the bugs that transmit these diseases all originate in wild animals and pass to humans by a process called spillover. In this gripping account, David Quammen takes the reader along on this astonishing quest to learn how, where from, and why these diseases emerge and asks the terrifying question: What might the next big one be?
Winner of the James Beard Award
Author of #1 New York Times Bestsellers In Defense of Food and Food Rules
What should we have for dinner? Ten years ago, Michael Pollan confronted us with this seemingly simple question and, with The Omnivore’s Dilemma, his brilliant and eye-opening exploration of our food choices, demonstrated that how we answer it today may determine not only our health but our survival as a species. In the years since, Pollan’s revolutionary examination has changed the way Americans think about food. Bringing wide attention to the little-known but vitally important dimensions of food and agriculture in America, Pollan launched a national conversation about what we eat and the profound consequences that even the simplest everyday food choices have on both ourselves and the natural world. Ten years later, The Omnivore’s Dilemma continues to transform the way Americans think about the politics, perils, and pleasures of eating.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Five prominent biophysicists have warned the United States government that sterilization procedures for returning space probes may be inadequate to guarantee uncontaminated re-entry to the atmosphere. Two years later, a probe satellite falls to the earth and lands in a desolate region of northeastern Arizona. Nearby, in the town of Piedmont, bodies lie heaped and flung across the ground, faces locked in frozen surprise. What could cause such shock and fear? The terror has begun, and there is no telling where it will end.
Tally thought they were a rumor, but now she’s one of them. A Special. A super-amped fighting machine, engineered to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid.
But maybe being perfectly programmed with strength and focus isn’t better than anything she’s ever known. Tally still has memories of something else.
Still, it’s easy to tune that out—until she’s offered a chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: listen to that tiny, faint heartbeat, or carry out the mission she’s programmed to complete. Either way, Tally’s world will never be the same.