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?
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.
Microbiology is a fascinating field that explores life down to the tiniest level. Did you know that your body contains more bacteria cells than human cells? It's true. Microbes are essential to our everyday lives, from the food we eat to the very internal systems that keep us alive. These microbes include bacteria, algae, fungi, viruses, and nematodes. Without microbes, life on Earth would not survive. It's amazing to think that all life is so dependent on these microscopic creatures, but their impact on our future is even more astonishing. Microbes are the tools that allow us to engineer hardier crops, create better medicines, and fuel our technology in sustainable ways. Microbes may just help us save the world.
Microbiology For Dummies is your guide to understanding the fundamentals of this enormously-encompassing field. Whether your career plans include microbiology or another science or health specialty, you need to understand life at the cellular level before you can understand anything on the macro scale.Explore the difference between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells Understand the basics of cell function and metabolism Discover the differences between pathogenic and symbiotic relationships Study the mechanisms that keep different organisms active and alive
You need to know how cells work, how they get nutrients, and how they die. You need to know the effects different microbes have on different systems, and how certain microbes are integral to ecosystem health. Microbes are literally the foundation of all life, and they are everywhere. Microbiology For Dummies will help you understand them, appreciate them, and use them.
Whether it is asthma, food or pollen allergies, type-1 diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, or Crohn’s disease, everyone knows someone who suffers from an allergic or autoimmune disorder. And if it appears that the prevalence of these maladies has increased recently, that’s because it has—to levels never before seen in human history. These days no fewer than one in five—and likely more—Americans suffers from one of these ailments. We seem newly, and bafflingly, vulnerable to immune system malfunction. Why? Science writer Moises Velasquez-Manoff explains the latest thinking about this problem and explores the remarkable new treatments in the works.
In the past 150 years, improved sanitation, water treatment, and the advent of vaccines and antibiotics have saved countless lives, nearly eradicating diseases that had plagued humanity for millennia. But now, a growing body of evidence suggests that the very steps we took to combat infections also eliminated organisms that kept our bodies in balance. The idea that we have systematically cleaned ourselves to illness challenges deeply entrenched notions about the value of societal hygiene and the harmful nature of microbes. Yet scientists investigating the rampant immune dysfunction in the developed world have inevitably arrived at this conclusion. To address this global “epidemic of absence,” they must restore the human ecosystem.
This groundbreaking book explores the promising but controversial “worm therapy”—deliberate infection with parasitic worms—in development to treat autoimmune disease. It explains why farmers’ children so rarely get hay fever, why allergy is less prevalent in former Eastern Bloc countries, and how one cancer-causing bacterium may be good for us. It probes the link between autism and a dysfunctional immune system. It investigates the newly apparent fetal origins of allergic disease—that a mother’s inflammatory response imprints on her unborn child, tipping the scales toward allergy. In the future, preventive treatment—something as simple as a probiotic—will necessarily begin before birth.
An Epidemic of Absence asks what will happen in developing countries, which, as they become more affluent, have already seen an uptick in allergic disease: Will India end up more allergic than Europe? Velasquez-Manoff also details a controversial underground movement that has coalesced around the treatment of immune-mediated disorders with parasites. Against much of his better judgment, he joins these do-it-yourselfers and reports his surprising results.
An Epidemic of Absence considers the critical immune stimuli we inadvertently lost as we modernized, and the modern ills we may be able to correct by restoring them. At stake is nothing less than our health, and that of our loved ones. Researchers, meanwhile, have the good fortune of living through a paradigm shift, one of those occasional moments in the progress of science when a radically new way of thinking emerges, shakes things up, and suggests new avenues of treatment. You’ll discover that you’re not you at all, but a bustling collection of organisms, an ecosystem whose preservation and integrity require the utmost attention and care.
Public sanitation and antibiotic drugs have brought about historic increases in the human life span; they have also unintentionally produced new health crises by disrupting the intimate, age-old balance between humans and the microorganisms that inhabit our bodies and our environment. As a result, antibiotic resistance now ranks among the gravest medical problems of modern times. Good Germs, Bad Germs addresses not only this issue but also what has become known as the "hygiene hypothesis"— an argument that links the over-sanitation of modern life to now-epidemic increases in immune and other disorders. In telling the story of what went terribly wrong in our war on germs, Jessica Snyder Sachs explores our emerging understanding of the symbiotic relationship between the human body and its resident microbes—which outnumber its human cells by a factor of nine to one! The book also offers a hopeful look into a future in which antibiotics will be designed and used more wisely, and beyond that, to a day when we may replace antibacterial drugs and cleansers with bacterial ones—each custom-designed for maximum health benefits.
Fortunately for you, there's Schaum's Outlines. More than 40 million students have trusted Schaum's to help them succeed in the classroom and on exams. Schaum's is the key to faster learning and higher grades in every subject. Each Outline presents all the essential course information in an easy-to-follow, topic-by-topic format. You also get hundreds of examples, solved problems, and practice exercises to test your skills.
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In The Fever, the journalist Sonia Shah sets out to answer these questions, delivering a timely, inquisitive chronicle of the illness and its influence on human lives. Through the centuries, she finds, we've invested our hopes in a panoply of drugs and technologies, and invariably those hopes have been dashed. From the settling of the New World to the construction of the Panama Canal, through wars and the advances of the Industrial Revolution, Shah tracks malaria's jagged ascent and the tragedies in its wake, revealing a parasite every bit as persistent as the insects that carry it. With distinguished prose and original reporting from Panama, Malawi, Cameroon, India, and elsewhere, The Fever captures the curiously fascinating, devastating history of this long-standing thorn in the side of humanity.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Includes New and Updated Material
Now in its second edition, this work is the culmination of research and discussions with technical experts, as well as USP and FDA representatives on various topics of interest to the pharmaceutical microbiologist and those responsible for the microbial quality of products, materials, equipment, and manufacturing facilities. New in this edition is an entire chapter dedicated to the topic of biofilms and their impact on pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical operations. The subject of rapid methods in microbiology has been expanded and includes a discussion on the validation of alternative microbiological methods and a case study on microbial identification in support of a product contamination investigation.
Substantially updated and revised, this book assists readers in understanding the fundamental issues associated with pharmaceutical microbiology and provides them with tools to create effective microbial contamination control and microbial testing programs for the areas under their responsibility.
* Only available work to cover the entire whisky process from raw material to delivery to the market in such a comprehensive manner
* Includes a chapter on marketing and selling whisky
* Foreword written by Alan Rutherford, former Chairman and Managing Director of United Malt and Grain Distillers Ltd.
The book provides an overview of the function of the pharmaceutical microbiologist and what they need to know, from regulatory filing and GMP, to laboratory design and management, and compendia tests and risk assessment tools and techniques. These key aspects are discussed through a series of dedicated chapters, with topics covering auditing, validation, data analysis, bioburden, toxins, microbial identification, culture media, and contamination control.Contains the applications of pharmaceutical microbiology in sterile and non-sterile productsPresents the practical aspects of pharmaceutical microbiology testingProvides contamination control risks and remediation strategies, along with rapid microbiological methodsIncludes bioburden, endotoxin, and specific microbial risksHighlights relevant case studies and risk assessment scenarios
This book provides an understanding of the microbial challenges to the safety of low aw foods, and a historic backdrop to the paradigm shift now highlighting low aw foods as vehicles for foodborne pathogens. Up-to-date facts and figures of foodborne illness outbreaks and product recalls are included. Special attention is given to the uncanny ability of Salmonella to persist under dry conditions in food processing plants and foods. A section is dedicated specifically to processing plant investigations, providing practical approaches to determining sources of persistent bacterial strains in the industrial food processing environment. Readers are guided through dry cleaning, wet cleaning and alternatives to processing plant hygiene and sanitation. Separate chapters are devoted to low aw food commodities of interest including spices, dried dairy-based products, low aw meat products, dried ready-to-eat cereal products, powdered infant formula, nuts and nut pastes, flours and meals, chocolate and confectionary, dried teas and herbs, and pet foods. The book provides regulatory testing guidelines and recommendations as well as guidance through methodological and sampling challenges to testing spices and low aw foods for the presence of foodborne pathogens. Chapters also address decontamination processes for low aw foods, including heat, steam, irradiation, microwave, and alternative energy-based treatments.
The core information is presented in a clear and concise way, with extensive use of diagrams, algorithms, tables and boxes. All chapters have been updated to reflect current best practice and the annotated bibliographies and lists of web-based resources have been extended. The chapters on HIV, tuberculosis and malaria have undergone particularly extensive revision, reflecting rapid changes in these areas since the last edition.
Lecture Notes: Tropical Medicine is particularly aimed at postgraduate doctors attending tropical medicine courses, as well as medical students taking a tropical medicine elective period. It will also be useful to a wide range of other health professionals involved with medicine in the tropics, or imported tropical disease.
Vaccines and Autoimmunity is divided into three sections; the first contextualizes the role of adjuvants in the framework of autoimmunity, covering the mechanism of action of adjuvants, experimental models of adjuvant induced autoimmune diseases, infections as adjuvants, the Gulf War Syndrome, sick-building syndrome (SBS), safe vaccines, toll-like receptors, TLRS in vaccines, pesticides as adjuvants, oil as adjuvant, mercury, aluminum and autoimmunity. The following section reviews literature on vaccines that have induced autoimmune conditions such as MMR and HBV, among others. The final section covers diseases in which vaccines were known to be the solicitor – for instance, systemic lupus erythematosus – and whether it can be induced by vaccines for MMR, HBV, HCV, and others.Edited by leaders in the field, Vaccines and Autoimmunity is an invaluable resource for advanced students and researchers working in pathogenic and epidemiological studies.
Vaccinated is not a biography; Hilleman's experience forms the basis for a rich and lively narrative of two hundred years of medical history, ranging across the globe and throughout time to take in a cast of hundreds, all caught up, intentionally or otherwise, in the story of vaccines. It is an inspiring and triumphant tale, but one with a cautionary aspect, as vaccines come under assault from people blaming vaccines for autism and worse. Paul Offit clearly and compellingly rebuts those arguments, and, by demonstrating how much the work of Hilleman and others has gained for humanity, shows us how much we have to lose.
The vast majority of medically important pathogens infect their host across a body surface such as the skin, or across a mucosal tissue such as the respiratory tract or intestines, as these sites are the ones exposed to the external environment. By focusing on immunity at mucosal and body surfaces this book presents a fresh, new approach to the teaching of immunology.
After an introduction to the basic structure of the immune system, the book looks at two important families of signalling molecules: cytokines and chemokines, before covering the workings of the mucosal immune system. It continues by examining immunity against the four major groups of pathogens - viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites, and concludes by looking at disorders of the immune system, mucosal tumour immunology and the process of vaccination.A fresh, new approach to the subject focusing on mucosal and body surfaces. Describes the mucosal immune systems of the gastrointestinal, respiratory and urogenital tracts, as well as the skin. Details the important roles of cytokines and chemokines in an immune response. Separate chapters devoted to immunity against viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. Includes chapter summaries, boxes with topics of special interest and an extensive glossary. Clearly written and well- illustrated in full colour throughout.
Students across a range of disciplines, including biology, biochemistry, biomedicine, medicine and veterinary sciences, will find this book invaluable, both as an introduction to basic immunology and as a guide to mucosal immune defence mechanisms.
Paul Falkowski looks "under the hood" of microbes to find the engines of life, the actual working parts that do the biochemical heavy lifting for every living organism on Earth. With insight and humor, he explains how these miniature engines are built—and how they have been appropriated by and assembled like Lego sets within every creature that walks, swims, or flies. Falkowski shows how evolution works to maintain this core machinery of life, and how we and other animals are veritable conglomerations of microbes.
A vibrantly entertaining book about the microbes that support our very existence, Life's Engines will inspire wonder about these elegantly complex nanomachines that have driven life since its origin. It also issues a timely warning about the dangers of tinkering with that machinery to make it more "efficient" at meeting the ever-growing demands of humans in the coming century.
This book is written in the same engaging conversational style as the published reference book The Immune Response: Basic and Clinical Principles and conveys the same fascinating appeal of immunology. The authors bring clarity, readability and continuity of voice to an audience that requires only a brief survey of the most fundamental concepts in basic and clinical immunology. Primer to The Immune Response is beautifully illustrated with over 200 superb figures and 36 full-color plates, and further enhanced by the inclusion of 60 tables and 6 Appendices. Included with purchase of the book is website access to a captivating “Immunomovie" that truly brings the immune response to pathogens to life. This new and unique immunology textbook compactly but elegantly covers both basic and clinical principles.Over 200 elegant 2-4 color illustrations36 full-color plates of basic and clinical items of interestTake-home message and “Did You Get It? self-test quiz at the end of each chapter6 Appendices that provide topic enrichment60-minute "Immunomovie" illustrating the immune response to bacterial, viral and parasitic infections
A Planet of Viruses is Carl Zimmer’s eye-opening look at the hidden world of viruses. Zimmer, the popular science writer and author of National Geographic’s award-winning blog The Loom, has updated this edition to include the stories of new outbreaks, such as Ebola, MERS, and chikungunya virus; new scientific discoveries, such as a hundred-million-year-old virus that infected the common ancestor of armadillos, elephants, and humans; and new findings that show why climate change may lead to even deadlier outbreaks. Zimmer’s lucid explanations and fascinating stories demonstrate how deeply humans and viruses are intertwined. Viruses helped give rise to the first life-forms, are responsible for many of our most devastating diseases, and will continue to control our fate for centuries. Thoroughly readable, and as reassuring as it is frightening, A Planet of Viruses is a fascinating tour of a formidable hidden world.
In addition to a number of informative changes to the text throughout the book, the final four chapters have been significantly updated and extended to reflect the striking advances made in recent years in the applications of gene cloning and DNA analysis in biotechnology.
Gene Cloning and DNA Analysis remains an essential introductory text to a wide range of biological sciences students; including genetics and genomics, molecular biology, biochemistry, immunology and applied biology. It is also a perfect introductory text for any professional needing to learn the basics of the subject. All libraries in universities where medical, life and biological sciences are studied and taught should have copies available on their shelves.
"… the book content is elegantly illustrated and well organized in clear-cut chapters and subsections… there is a Further Reading section after each chapter that contains several key references… What is extremely useful, almost every reference is furnished with the short but distinct author's remark."
–Journal of Heredity, 2007 (on the previous edition)
Microorganisms in Foods 5, 7, and the second edition of Microorganisms in Foods 6 are for anyone using microbiological testing and/or engaged in setting Microbiological Criteria, whether for the purpose of Governmental Food Inspection and Control or in Industry, and for those identifying the most effective use of microbiological testing in the food chain. The contents are essential reading for food processors, food microbiologists, food technologists, veterinarians, public health workers and regulatory officials. For students in Food Science and Technology they offer a wealth of information on Food Microbiology and Food Safety Management, with many references for further study.
The information has been prepared by the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICMSF). The ICMSF was formed in response to the need for internationally acceptable and authoritative decisions on microbiological limits for foods moving in international commerce. Currently the membership consists of eighteen food microbiologists from eleven countries, drawn from governmental laboratories in public health, agriculture, and food technology, from universities and from the food industry.
"A very well-written book suitable for use as a reference or textbook for an undergraduate subject in cell signalling. For researchers interested in the molecular basis of cell signalling and how aberrant regulation of cell signalling proteins causes diseases, this is an excellent resource of biochemical and structural information." –Australian Biochemist, August 2009
"From basics to details, this is an elegantly written and carefully edited book. The chapters on cell cycle control and oncogenesis are particularly fascinating and valuable to biomedical research. This is the book to have if you are interested in molecular mechanisms of signal transduction. It is a great introduction to the literature that will be welcomed by students and experts alike." –Doody's, January 2009
This text is a concise and accessible introduction to the dynamic but complex field of signal transduction. Rather than simply cataloguing all signalling molecules and delineating every known pathway, this book aims to break signalling down into common elements and activities – the ‘nuts and bolts’ of cellular information exchange.
With an emphasis on clarity of presentation throughout, the book teaches the basic principles focusing on a mature core of knowledge, providing students with a foundation of learning in this complex and potentially confusing subject. It also addresses the issue of variation in the numbering of key amino acids as well as featuring interaction with RasMol software, and exercises to aid understanding.An accessible introduction to the complex field of cell signalling Interacts with RasMol software – freely downloadable for viewing structures in 3D Includes exercises and clear instructions in the use of RasMol Well illustrated in full colour throughout
Structure and Function in Cell Signalling is an invaluable resource to students across a range of life science degree programmes including biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, physiology, biomedicine and oncology. This book provides a clear, accessible introduction to this rapidly expanding field.
Toxoplasmosis is caused by a one-celled protozoan parasite known as T. gondii. The infection produces a wide range of clinical syndromes in humans, land and sea mammals, and various bird species. Most humans contract toxoplasmosis by eating contaminated, raw or undercooked meat (particularly pork), vegetables, or milk products; by coming into contact with the T. gondii eggs from cat feces; or by drinking contaminated water. The parasite damages the ocular and central nervous systems, causing behavioral and personality alterations as well as fatal necrotizing encephalitis. It is especially dangerous for the fetus of an infected pregnant woman and for individuals with compromised immune systems, such as HIV-infected patients.Completely updated, the 2e presents recent advances driven by new information on the genetics and genomics of the pathogenProvides the latest information concerning the epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of toxoplasmosisOffers a single-source reference for a wide range of scientists and physicians working with this pathogen, including parasitologists, cell and molecular biologists, veterinarians, neuroscientists, physicians, and food scientists
* A summary of the foods most association with human infections
* A discussion of the principles of laboratory detection of the agent considering the advantages and disadvantages of various procedure
* A 'historical to present-day' section
* A description of the infection in humans and animals, including reservoirs and the mode of transmission
*A one-stop source for proven methods and protocols for synthesizing bioconjugates in the lab
*Step-by-step presentation makes the book an ideal source for researchers who are less familiar with the synthesis of bioconjugates
*More than 600 figures that visually describe the complex reactions associated with the synthesis of bioconjugates
*Includes entirely new chapters on the latest areas in the field of bioconjugation as follows:
Microparticles and nanoparticles
Silane coupling agents
Dendrimers and dendrons
Discrete PEG compounds
Buckyballs,fullerenes, and carbon nanotubes
Mass tags and isotope tags
Bioconjugation in the study of protein interactions
Developed at MIT in collaboration with award-winning high school teachers, BioBuilder teaches the foundational ideas of the emerging synthetic biology field, as well as key aspects of biological engineering that researchers are exploring in labs throughout the world. These lessons will empower teachers and students to explore and be part of solving persistent real-world challenges.Learn the fundamentals of biodesign and DNA engineeringExplore important ethical issues raised by examples of synthetic biologyInvestigate the BioBuilder labs that probe the design-build-test cycleTest synthetic living systems designed and built by engineersMeasure several variants of an enzyme-generating genetic circuitModel "bacterial photography" that changes a strain’s light sensitivityBuild living systems to produce purple or green pigmentOptimize baker’s yeast to produce ?-carotene
The latest developments in the field are included and key concepts introduced in a user-friendly way to ensure that students are able to grasp the essentials before moving on to more advanced study and analysis of proteins.
An invaluable resource for students of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Medicine and Chemistry providing a modern approach to the subject of Proteins.
In this subject area, practical experience is the key to learning and this textbook provides examples and techniques to help the student get the best out of their projects. Design and Development of Biological, Chemical, Food and Pharma Products aims to aid students in developing good working habits for product development. Students are challenged with examples of real problems that they might encounter as engineers.
Written in an informal, student-friendly tone, this unique book includes examples of real products and experiences from real companies to bring the subject alive for the student as well as placing emphasis on problem solving and team learning to set a foundation for a future in industry. The book includes an introduction to the subject of Colloid Science, which is important in product development, but neglected in many curricula. Knowledge of engineering calculus and basic physical chemistry as well as basic inorganic and organic chemistry are assumed.
An invaluable text for students of product design in chemical engineering, biochemistry, biotechnology, pharmaceutical sciences and product development.Uses many examples and case studies drawn from a range of industries. Approaches product development as a subject in its own right rather than a sideline of process engineering Emphasizes a problem solving and team learning approach. Assumes some knowledge of calculus, basic physical chemistry and basic transport phenomena as well as some inorganic and organic chemistry.
* Offers almost a 20% expansion over the first edition
* Focuses specifically on viral pathogenesis unlike other texts where only a few chapters are devoted to the topic
* Neal Nathanson is one of the primary authorities in the field and has authored chapters on viral pathogenesis in two of the most well known virology and microbiology titles Field's Virology and Topley and Wilson's Microbiology
* Now in four color throughout!
The book is professionally illustrated in four color throughout with beautiful artwork which by itself distinguish the title from any comparable title.
Adopting a modern approach and with extensive use of clear comprehensive diagrams, Essential Microbiology explains key topics through the use of definition boxes and end of chapter questions.
This book is invaluable for undergraduate students in the biological, food and health sciences taking a first course in Microbiology.comprehensive introduction covering all aspects of this exciting subject. includes numerous examples and applications from a wide range of fields. definition boxes, key points and self-test questions enhance student understanding.
All of the core bioscience laboratory techniques are covered including: basic calculations and the preparation of solutions; aseptic techniques; microscopy techniques; cell fractionation ; spectrophotometry; chromatography of small and large molecules: electrophoresis of proteins and nucleic acids and data analysis. In addition the book includes clear, relevant diagrams and worked examples of calculations.
In short, this is a 'must-have' for all first year bioscience students struggling to get to grips with this vitally important element of their course.
Easily find and cross-reference information through a detailed table of contents that highlights clinical examples in red.
Review material quickly using pedagogical features, such as Essential Concept boxes, bolded words, and key clinical terms marked in red, that emphasize key details and reinforce your learning.
Integrate cell biology and histology with pathology thanks to vivid descriptive illustrations that compare micrographs with diagrams and pathological images.Apply the latest developments in pathology through updated text and new illustrations that emphasize appropriate correlations.
Expand your understanding of clinical applications with additional clinical case boxes that focus on applying cell and molecular biology to clinical conditions.
Effectively review concepts and reinforce your learning using new Concept Map flow charts that provide a framework to illustrate the integration of cell-tissue-structure-function within a clinical-pathology context.
This could be a description of a human army. It happens, however, to be a description of an army of cancer cells. Most of us shrink from describing bacteria and other microorganisms as intelligent. Neurosurgeon Frank Vertosick does not. And perhaps, when you finish reading MIND: A UNIFIED THEORY OF LIFE AND INTELLIGENCE, you will not either.
What is intelligence? We define it in human terms, but are humans the only measure? We ascribe it to higher mammals and to social insects like bees and ants, but when we cross the threshold into cellular life, definitions blur. This revolutionary–but accessible and highly entertaining–exploration of intelligence is guaranteed to alter your appreciation of life on its most fundamental level.
Frank T. Vertosick, J.R., M.D. is the author of WHEN AIR HITS YOUR BRAIN and WHY WE HURT: THE NATURAL HISTORY OF PAIN
(Originally published as THE GENIUS WITHIN)
With its clear, concise and reader-friendly format this book has all the potential to become the Bible of skin aging. Every specialist interested in dermatology, aesthetic medicine, cosmetic science, cutaneous biology and aging research will find indispensable information of great value for his or her daily work.
“Fascinating—and full of the kind of factoids you can't wait to share.” —Scientific American
Parasites can live only inside another animal and, as Kathleen McAuliffe reveals, these tiny organisms have many evolutionary motives for manipulating the behavior of their hosts. With astonishing precision, parasites can coax rats to approach cats, spiders to transform the patterns of their webs, and fish to draw the attention of birds that then swoop down to feast on them. We humans are hardly immune to their influence. Organisms we pick up from our own pets are strongly suspected of changing our personality traits and contributing to recklessness and impulsivity—even suicide. Germs that cause colds and the flu may alter our behavior even before symptoms become apparent.
Parasites influence our species on the cultural level, too. Drawing on a huge body of research, McAuliffe argues that our dread of contamination is an evolved defense against parasites. The horror and revulsion we are programmed to feel when we come in contact with people who appear diseased or dirty helped pave the way for civilization, but may also be the basis for major divisions in societies that persist to this day. This Is Your Brain on Parasites is both a journey into cutting-edge science and a revelatory examination of what it means to be human.
“If you’ve ever doubted the power of microbes to shape society and offer us a grander view of life, read on and find yourself duly impressed.” —Heather Havrilesky, Bookforum
On a summer day in 1674, in the small Dutch city of Delft, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek—a cloth salesman, local bureaucrat, and self-taught natural philosopher—gazed through a tiny lens set into a brass holder and discovered a never-before imagined world of microscopic life. At the same time, in a nearby attic, the painter Johannes Vermeer was using another optical device, a camera obscura, to experiment with light and create the most luminous pictures ever beheld.
“See for yourself!” was the clarion call of the 1600s. Scientists peered at nature through microscopes and telescopes, making the discoveries in astronomy, physics, chemistry, and anatomy that ignited the Scientific Revolution. Artists investigated nature with lenses, mirrors, and camera obscuras, creating extraordinarily detailed paintings of flowers and insects, and scenes filled with realistic effects of light, shadow, and color. By extending the reach of sight the new optical instruments prompted the realization that there is more than meets the eye. But they also raised questions about how we see and what it means to see. In answering these questions, scientists and artists in Delft changed how we perceive the world.
In Eye of the Beholder, Laura J. Snyder transports us to the streets, inns, and guildhalls of seventeenth-century Holland, where artists and scientists gathered, and to their studios and laboratories, where they mixed paints and prepared canvases, ground and polished lenses, examined and dissected insects and other animals, and invented the modern notion of seeing. With charm and narrative flair Snyder brings Vermeer and Van Leeuwenhoek—and the men and women around them—vividly to life. The story of these two geniuses and the transformation they engendered shows us why we see the world—and our place within it—as we do today.
Eye of the Beholder was named "A Best Art Book of the Year" by Christie's and "A Best Read of the Year" by New Scientist in 2015.