I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life

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Joining the ranks of popular science classics like The Botany of Desire and The Selfish Gene, a groundbreaking, wondrously informative, and vastly entertaining examination of the most significant revolution in biology since Darwin—a “microbe’s-eye view” of the world that reveals a marvelous, radically reconceived picture of life on earth.

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.

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About the author

Ed Yong is an award-winning science writer on the staff of the Atlantic. His blog Not Exactly Rocket Science is hosted by National Geographic, and his work has appeared in The New Yorker, Wired, the New York Times, Nature, New Scientist, Scientific American, the Guardian, the Times, Discover, Slate, and other publications. He lives in London and Washington DC.

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Additional Information

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Published on
Aug 9, 2016
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Medical / Microbiology
Science / Life Sciences / Biology
Science / Life Sciences / Microbiology
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Eligible for Family Library

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“Engrossing … [An] expedition through the hidden and sometimes horrifying microbial domain.” —Wall Street Journal

“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 
"Vivid . . . impressive. . . . Splendidly informative."—The New York Times
"Succeeds spectacularly."—Science
"A tour de force."—Salon

Already internationally acclaimed for his elegant, lucid writing on the most challenging notions in modern physics, Sean Carroll is emerging as one of the greatest humanist thinkers of his generation as he brings his extraordinary intellect to bear not only on Higgs bosons and extra dimensions but now also on our deepest personal questions: Where are we? Who are we? Are our emotions, our beliefs, and our hopes and dreams ultimately meaningless out there in the void? Do human purpose and meaning fit into a scientific worldview?

In short chapters filled with intriguing historical anecdotes, personal asides, and rigorous exposition, readers learn the difference between how the world works at the quantum level, the cosmic level, and the human level—and then how each connects to the other. Carroll's presentation of the principles that have guided the scientific revolution from Darwin and Einstein to the origins of life, consciousness, and the universe is dazzlingly unique.  

Carroll shows how an avalanche of discoveries in the past few hundred years has changed our world and what really matters to us. Our lives are dwarfed like never before by the immensity of space and time, but they are redeemed by our capacity to comprehend it and give it meaning.

The Big Picture is an unprecedented scientific worldview, a tour de force that will sit on shelves alongside the works of Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, Daniel Dennett, and E. O. Wilson for years to come.
"Eyeopening... Fascinating... may presage a paradigm shift in medicine.” 
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Teeming with information and big ideas... Outstanding.”
—Booklist (starred review)

The origin of asthma, autism, Alzheimer's, allergies, cancer, heart disease, obesity, and even some kinds of depression is now clear. Award-winning researcher on the microbiome, professor Rodney Dietert presents a new paradigm in human biology that has emerged in the midst of the ongoing global epidemic of noncommunicable diseases.

     The Human Superorganism makes a sweeping, paradigm-shifting argument. It demolishes two fundamental beliefs that have blinkered all medical thinking until very recently: 1) Humans are better off as pure organisms free of foreign microbes; and 2) the human genome is the key to future medical advances. The microorganisms that we have sought to eliminate have been there for centuries supporting our ancestors. They comprise as much as 90 percent of the cells in and on our bodies—a staggering percentage! More than a thousand species of them live inside us, on our skin, and on our very eyelashes. Yet we have now significantly reduced their power and in doing so have sparked an epidemic of noncommunicable diseases—which now account for 63 percent of all human deaths. 

     Ultimately, this book is not just about microbes; it is about a different way to view humans. The story that Dietert tells of where the new biology comes from, how it works, and the ways in which it affects your life is fascinating, authoritative, and revolutionary. Dietert identifies foods that best serve you, the superorganism; not new fad foods but ancient foods that have made sense for millennia. He explains protective measures against unsafe chemicals and drugs. He offers an empowering self-care guide and the blueprint for a revolution in public health. We are not what we have been taught. Each of us is a superorganism. The best path to a healthy life is through recognizing that profound truth.

From the Hardcover edition.
The groundbreaking science behind the surprising source of good health

Stanford University’s Justin and Erica Sonnenburg are pioneers in the most exciting and potentially transformative field in the entire realm of human health and wellness, the study of the relationship between our bodies and the trillions of organisms representing thousands of species to which our bodies play host, the microbes that we collectively call the microbiota. The microbiota interacts with our bodies in a number of powerful ways; the Sonnenburgs argue that it determines in no small part whether we’re sick or healthy, fit or obese, sunny or moody. The microbiota has always been with us, and in fact has coevolved with humans, entwining its functions with ours so deeply, the Sonnenburgs show us, humans are really composite organisms having both microbial and human parts. But now, they argue, because of changes to diet, antibiotic over-use, and over-sterilization, our gut microbiota is facing a “mass extinction event,” which is causing our bodies to go haywire, and may be behind the mysterious spike in some of our most troubling modern afflictions, from food allergies to autism, cancer to depression. It doesn’t have to be this way.

The Good Gut offers a new plan for health that focuses on how to nourish your microbiota, including recipes and a menu plan. In this groundbreaking work, the Sonnenburgs show how we can keep our microbiota off the endangered species list and how we can strengthen the community that inhabits our gut and thereby improve our own health. The answer is unique for each of us, and it changes as you age.

In this important and timely investigation, the Sonnenburgs look at safe alternatives to antibiotics; dietary and lifestyle choices to encourage microbial health; the management of the aging microbiota; and the nourishment of your own individual microbiome.

Caring for our gut microbes may be the most important health choice we can make.

From the Hardcover edition.
>> „Kniha Obsahuji davy je syntézou doslova stovek a stovek vědeckých článků. Ed Yong vás přitom nikdy nezahltí odborností, ale vede vás od jednoho fascinujícího poznatku k druhému. Obsahuji davy je úplnou špičkou na poli vědecké žurnalistiky.“
— Bill Gates <<

>> Každé lidské tělo, i to vaše, obsahuje davy: přetéká desítkami bilionů mikrobů. Co jsou vlastně zač? Škodí nám? Pomáhají? A jak? Nahlédněte do neuvěřitelného mikrosvěta, jehož důležitost pro člověka i všechen život na Zemi jsme až dosud neznali. Skvělý vypraveč Ed Yong vám bude zábavným a přitom erudovaným průvodcem.<<

## O knize

Mnoho lidí považuje mikroby za pouhé patogeny předurčené k likvidaci. Malé, otravné a nebezpečné. Slavný popularizátor vědy Ed Yong však ví, že drtivé většiny mikrobů se nemusíme bát, natož je ničit. Naopak, měli bychom je hýčkat, obdivovat a studovat, protože zcela zásadně utváří naše těla a ovlivňují naše zdraví. Život mikrobů je úzce propleten s tím naším, stejně jako se životem každého živočicha na Zemi. Bez nich bychom tu zkrátka nebyli. Toto poznání se v posledních letech stalo nejdůležitější biologickou revolucí od doby Darwina – a vy můžete být u ní.

## Proč si knihu přečíst

- Pochopíte, jak bakterie upravují odezvu lidí na léky proti rakovině, jak vylaďují náš trávicí nebo imunitní systém a dokonce mění naši genetickou výbavu.
- Dozvíte se, jaké nečekané schopnosti mikrobi propůjčují živočichům, od pláště neviditelnosti sépiím po zajištění energie tvorům bez úst a střev.
- Dočtete se o neuvěřitelných schopnostech bakterií, které si dokážou vzájemně vyměňovat kusy DNA a stavět tak na hlavu naše dosavadní představy o evoluci.
- Dozvíte se o příčinách současné epidemie alergií, proč jimi méně trpí mladší sourozenci a jak vám pomůžou domácí mazlíčci.
- Zjistíte, že každá rodina má svůj jedinečný mikrobiom, kterým do 24 hodin přepíše mikrobiální prostředí bytu, do něhož se přestěhuje.
- Získáte radikálně nový pohled na život na Zemi.

## O autorovi

ED YONG je cenami ověnčený popularizátor vědy a pravidelný přispěvatel měsíčníku The Atlantic. Jeho oblíbený blog Not Exactly Rocket Science vychází v rámci National Geographic. Práce Eda Yonga se objevují v periodikách Wired, New York Times, Nature, New Scientist, Scientific American, Guardian, The Times a také v BBC. Žije v Londýně.

# Více o knize
Sdílejte s hashtagem #obsahujidavy
Yo contengo multitudes ya es considerado una obra fundamental de ciencia divulgativa -como lo fue en su momento El gen egoísta-. Un libro fascinante y rompedor que cambiará de mil millones de micromaneras nuestra percepción del mundo natural y el espacio que en él ocupamos.

El cuerpo humano alberga billones de microbios que conforman todo un mundo en simbiosis con su entorno. Estos microscópicos y multitudinarios compañeros vitales no solo moldean nuestros órganos, nos protegen de enfermedades, e influyen en nuestro comportamiento, sino que resultan clave a la hora de entender el funcionamiento de la vida.

En Yo contengo multitudes Ed Yong nos abre los ojos y nos invita con su erudición y sentido del humor a mirarnos como algo más que individuos: como receptáculos interdependientes de los microbiomas que conforman todos los seres vivos.

Así, descubriremos la asombrosa e invisible ciencia detrás de los gigantescos arrecifes que construyen los corales, aprenderemos cómo ciertos calamares crean juegos de luces, y veremos el modo en que las bacterias pueden alterar nuestra respuesta en la lucha contra el cáncer, manipular nuestro sistema inmunológico, influir en nuestra evolución e incluso modificar nuestro genoma.

Bill Gates opina sobre este libro...
«Después de leer el interesantísimo libro Yo contengo multitudes del periodista británico Ed Yong, veo los microbios con una mirada diferente y hablo de ellos con nuevos términos. [...] Yong sintetiza literalmente cientos y cientos de páginas, sin abrumarte nunca con la ciencia. Tan solo imparte una visión fascinante y sorprendente detrás de otra. Yo contengo multitudes es el mejor periodismo científico.»
The Blog of Bill Gates

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