Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Panic in Level 4: Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science

Another subject that I am very into - viruses. Ebola, Marberg, anything like that. I can't read enough about outbreaks, research, history, etc. Don't ask me why, because I don't know. This book is actually a collection of essays and articles written by Preston for the New Yorker. And while Ebola is a major player in this book, the essay that I found the most interesting was about the 2 Russian mathematicians living in New York city who built a super-computer in their apartment using mail-order parts. And the reason for building this computer - to try and find a hidden order in the number pi. The whole discussion around pi, computers, space, the universe is at times over my head, but Preston does a great job of bringing it down to a level that is understandable to mathematically challenged folks like me.

Also included are chapters about genome mapping, the destruction of Eastern old growth forests due to insect parasites and about a gene that causes people to cannibalize themselves. I couldn't put this one down.

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