Carl Zimmer, one of our most talented and respected science writers, guides us on a memorable journey into the invisible, but amazing world within and around a tiny bacterium. He reveals a life or death battle every bit as dramatic as that on the Serengeti and one that offers profound insights into how life is made and evolves. Microcosm expands our sense of wonder by illuminating a microscopic universe few could imagine, and instills a great sense of pride in the great achievements of the scientists who have discovered and mastered its workings. Life fills my view: fescue and clover spreading out across the yard, rose of Sharon holding out leaves to catch sunlight and flowers to lure bumblebees. An orange cat lurks under a lilac bush, gazing up at an oblivious goldfinch.
|Published (Last):||28 August 2018|
|PDF File Size:||12.77 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||14.24 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
Carl Zimmer, one of our most talented and respected science writers, guides us on a memorable journey into the invisible, but amazing world within and around a tiny bacterium. He reveals a life or death battle every bit as dramatic as that on the Serengeti and one that offers profound insights into how life is made and evolves.
Microcosm expands our sense of wonder by illuminating a microscopic universe few could imagine, and instills a great sense of pride in the great achievements of the scientists who have discovered and mastered its workings.
Life fills my view: fescue and clover spreading out across the yard, rose of Sharon holding out leaves to catch sunlight and flowers to lure bumblebees. An orange cat lurks under a lilac bush, gazing up at an oblivious goldfinch. Snowy egrets and seagulls fly overhead. Stinkhorns and toadstools rudely surprise.
All of these things have something in common with one another, something not found in rocks or rivers, in tugboats or thumbtacks. They live. The fact that they live may be obvious, but what it means for them to be alive is not. How do all of the molecules in a snowy egret work together to keep it alive? Most other species on Earth are equally mysterious.
We can now read the entire human genome, all 3. Within this genetic tome, scientists have identified about 18, genes, each of which encodes proteins that build our bodies. And yet scientists have no idea what a third of those genes are for and only a faint understanding of most of the others.
Our ignorance actually reaches far beyond protein-coding genes. They take up only about 2 percent of the human genome. The other 98 percent of our DNA is a barely explored wilderness. Only a few species on the entire planet are exceptions to this rule. The biggest exception lives in the plastic box in my hand. The box-a petri dish-looks lifeless compared with the biological riot outside my window. A few beads of water cling to the underside of the lid.
On the bottom is a layer of agar, a firm gray goo made from dead algae and infused with sugar and other compounds. On top of the agar lies a trail of pale gold spots, a pointillistic flourish. Each of those spots is made up of millions of bacteria. They belong to a species that scientists have studied intensely for a century, that they understand better than almost any other species on the planet. I turn over the dish.
On the third floor is a laboratory filled with nose-turning incubators and murky flasks. A graduate student named Nadia Morales put on purple gloves and set two petri dishes on a lab bench. One was sterile, and the other contained a cloudy mush rich with E. She picked up a loop-a curled wire on a plastic handle-and stuck it in the flame of a Bunsen burner.
The loop glowed orange. She moved it away from the flame, and after it cooled down she dipped it into the mush. Opening the empty dish, she smeared a dollop across the sterile agar as if she were signing it. Morales snapped the lid on the second dish and taped it shut.
The lifeless agar in my petri dish began to rage with new chemistry. Old molecules snapped apart and were forged together into new ones. Oxygen molecules disappeared from the air in the dish, and carbon dioxide and beads of water were created. Life had taken hold. If I had microscopes for eyes, I could have watched the hundreds of E. Each one is shaped like a microscopic submarine, enshrouded by fatty, sugary membranes.
It trails propeller-like tails that spin hundreds of times a second. It is packed with tens of millions of molecules, jostling and cooperating to make the microbe grow.
Once it grows long enough, it splits cleanly in two. Splitting again and again, it gives rise to a miniature dynasty. When these dynasties grow large enough, they become visible as golden spots. There are certainly some deadly strains in its ranks. But most E. Billions of them live peacefully in my intestines, billions more in yours, and many others in just about every warm-blooded animal on Earth. They live in rivers and lakes, forests and backyards. And they also live in thousands of laboratories, nurtured in yeasty flasks and smeared across petri dishes.
In the early twentieth century, scientists began to study harmless strains of E. Some of them marched to Stockholm in the late s to pick up Nobel Prizes for their work. Later generations of scientists probed even further into E. As a single-celled microbe, E. But scientists keep finding more parallels between its life and ours. Like us, E. And like us, E. Scientists can now observe E. And in E. Through E. In the s, scientists first began to engineer living things, and the things they chose were E.
Today they are manipulating E. With the knowledge gained from E. It may not be long before they set to work on humans. I hold the petri dish up to the window. I can see the trees and flowers through its agar gauze. Each spot of the golden signature refracts their image.
I look at life through a lens made of E. Copyright Carl Zimmer.
CARL ZIMMER MICROCOSM PDF
Kazim Want to Read saving…. Dec 19, Dedbees rated it really liked it. Prophage A virus that attacks eats bacteria is called a bacteriophage or just phage, for short. Here, we mcrocosm the evolutionary capability of E. It is almost a primer on cellular and molecular biology; and if you wade through all the details you will come away with a lot of knowledge on the subject.
Scientists share the same ambition, though they employ different methods to reach their goals. No creature has revealed more about what it means to be alive than the microscopic intestinal bacterium known since as Escherichia coli. We may consist of billions of cells, while E coli has just the one - but what goes on in that single cell provides a model for the cacophony of chemical conversations that take place within each of our own. His book does, indeed, include a graphic account of the particularly nasty way in which a strain of the bacterium, known as OH7, kills people, but this is not a medical book.
Kejora Since the s, scientists have been cultivating one of these strains in laboratories and using it and the viruses that infect it to discover the secrets of life. May 20, Todd Martin microcsom it liked it Shelves: Prophage A virus that attacks eats bacteria is called a bacteriophage or just phage, for short. Microcosm: E. Coli and the New Science of Life Jicrocosm are discussions that are similar to those that came up while I was studying for my general examination. Perhaps this opportunity provides the fodder for a sequel.