"Deep Delights"

By Carl Zimmer | July 19, 2008 12:32 pm

MicrocosmA wonderful review of Microcosm just came out in the Times of London. It’s particularly gratifying to see it written by Oliver Morton, a science writer gifted with grace and style…

[Zimmer] “comes up with turns of phrase and images that are deep delights. The ways in which the structure of the cell depends on the tempo of different molecular processes give it a ‘geography of rhythms’; the building of a flagellum, which takes longer than the bacterium’s replication, is like building a medieval cathedral, in that ‘a new microbe inherits a partially built tail and passes it on, still unfinished, to its descendants”. (Another flagellar delight is the way in which Zimmer shows that, far from being a structure that could not evolve stepwise, as proponents of intelligent design would have you believe, this complex corkscrew actually reveals its evolved status clearly down at the molecular and genetic level.) Perhaps the phrase that will resonate with me longest, though, is the one he uses to frame the discussion of E. coli as a workhorse of biotechnology and a proving ground for the more ambitious redesigns of life – ‘playing nature’ – so much richer in its implications than the tediously Faustian ‘playing God.’ If you want to get a clearer idea of the sort of nature that science can now play with, this is the book for you.”

Full review here. Amazon link here.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Microcosm: The Book

Comments (1)

  1. foxfire

    I’m reading Microcosm now and it’s wonderful (I’m almost done)! PZ recommended it and he picks great reads (e.g., “Genesis” by Robert Hazen and Donald Prothero’s “Evolution”). Your articles are also fascinating and you have a wonderful ability to clearly explain the complex. As a layperson who loves science, I appreciate this! Thanks for writing (books and blog).


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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