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

Panic in Level 4: Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science❮PDF❯ ✪ Panic in Level 4: Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science Author Richard Preston – Oaklandjobs.co.uk Bizarre illnesses and plagues that kill people in the most unspeakable ways Obsessive and inspired efforts by scientists to solve mysteries and save lives From The Hot Zone to The Demon in the Freezer Bizarre illnesses and plagues that Level 4: PDF/EPUB ✓ kill people in the most unspeakable ways Obsessive and inspired efforts by scientists to solve mysteries and save lives From The Hot Zone to The Demon in the Freezer and beyond, Richard Preston s bestselling works have mesmerized readers everywhere by showing them strange worlds of nature they never dreamed of Panic in Levelis a grand tour through the eerie and unforgettable universe of Richard Preston, filled with incredible characters and mysteries that refuse to leave one s mind Here Panic in PDF \ are dramatic true stories from this acclaimed and award winning author, including The phenomenon of self cannibals, who suffer from a rare genetic condition caused by one wrong letter in their DNA that forces them to compulsively chew their own flesh and why everyone may have a touch of this disease The search for the unknown host of Ebola virus, an organism hidden somewhere in African rain forests, where the disease finds its way into the human species, causing outbreaks of unparalleled horror The brilliant Russian in Level 4: PDF/EPUB Â brothers one mathematician divided between two bodies who built a supercomputer in their apartment from mail order parts in an attempt to find hidden order in the number piIn fascinating, intimate, and exhilarating detail, Richard Preston portrays the frightening forces and constructive discoveries that are currently roiling and reordering our world, once again proving himself a master of the nonfiction narrative and, as noted in The Washington Post, a science writer with an uncommon gift for turning complex biology into riveting page turners From the Hardcover edition. Probably should have read the synopsis a bit better.Going into this based off of the titles, I thought it would be interesting to learn about Level 4, the place where the most dangerous viruses are quarantined where they can be studied in an attempt to learnabout them and possibly develop a cure.The introduction begins with the author and his journey into Level 4, a place where very few people go, much less ones that aren t directly working with the viruses in question The introduction en Probably should have read the synopsis a bit better.Going into this based off of the titles, I thought it would be interesting to learn about Level 4, the place where the most dangerous viruses are quarantined where they can be studied in an attempt to learnabout them and possibly develop a cure.The introduction begins with the author and his journey into Level 4, a place where very few people go, much less ones that aren t directly working with the viruses in question The introduction ends and suddenly, we re learning about Chudnovsky brothers and the supercomputer they built in order to generate billions of digits of pi in order to find some sort of pattern.I went back and read the synopsis because I was so confused as to what pi had to do with viruses.This book isn t really about Level 4, but instead a collection of travels the author has done to people that are on the edge of science Calculating pi, saving North American hemlocks, ebola and Lesch Nyhan Syndrome are some of the topics covered The book jumps around quite a lot, and should be considered as separate stories One could easily pick up any chapter in this book and read it from start to finish without the other chapters.Which is fine Except one of the later stories references the Chudnovsky brothers, and so I had to re read all about the brothers even though I had just met them and learned fara few chapters before.I found some of the chapters interesting simply because of the subject matter, but the author s personal anecdotes quickly became quite dull as he went on and on about what the person was wearing the particular day he met them, or other facts that weren t particularly relevant.I think if you are interested learning what is happening in science and all about the scientists performing this might be a worthwhile read, but for me I could have probably read 2 chapters out of them all and been done In introducing this collection of essays, Richard Preston reflects on the nature and constraints of writing narrative non fiction Basically, Preston is using Panic as an opportunity to add to or modify his pieces many of which originally appeared as articles in The New Yorker and give the reader a fuller sense of things that, for whatever reason, were left unsaid at the time The first example of this to which the title refers being his potential exposure to a Level 4 hazardous disease, In introducing this collection of essays, Richard Preston reflects on the nature and constraints of writing narrative non fiction Basically, Preston is using Panic as an opportunity to add to or modify his pieces many of which originally appeared as articles in The New Yorker and give the reader a fuller sense of things that, for whatever reason, were left unsaid at the time The first example of this to which the title refers being his potential exposure to a Level 4 hazardous disease, possibly a strain of Ebola, while doing his research for The Hot Zone an anecdote he omitted in the book in order to maintain a proper distance from the subject of his writing Mountains of Pi Technology evolves at an exponential rate at least according to Ray Kurzweil , so I finally had to stop part way into this story to find its original date of publication as it turns out, March 2, 1992 It s not that reflections on research in computer science and mathematics from twenty years ago is irrelevant, I simply needed a point of reference This is a profile of two brothers, David and Gregory Volfovich Chudnovsky, who built a supercomputer in their apartment in pursuit of pi They are certainly an interesting pair, Russian immigrants who are so close that they describe themselves as a single mathematician who, by chance, occupy two human bodies I did not have an easy time getting into this story Part of it, of course, is that I am not a theoretical mathematician However, one of the things I love about an author like Douglas Hofstadter though he and Preston do not necessarily address the same content is his use of analogy to give his readers the opportunity to grab on to something to help them build a mental model for understanding the idea of a theory or subject they might not otherwise be able to comprehend Preston jumps quickly to the notion of seeing God through pi, and to referring to numbers and equations as beautiful and transcendental, but without giving me the leg up I required to get a sense of what that might mean For example The Chudnovsky formula for pi is thought to be extremely beautiful by persons who have a good feel for numbers I m sure that there are plenty of people who would find this to be a fascinating essay probably people who have a good feel for numbers and, indeed, I found the characters interesting enough, but I just never got the foothold I needed in order to enjoy it per se All those other essays It s a testament to just how much I did not enjoy this book that I m having trouble mustering the energy to go through the next several essays piece by piece A Death in the Forest about invasive exotics, in this case, the wooly adelgid and The Human Kabbalah which discusses the human genome project just felt like old news to me The Search For Ebola was most interesting in its reflections on human fallibility in this case, doctors knee jerk responses to help patients that, at times, put them in direct contact with the virus With regard to The Lost Unicorn , as I whined about perhaps excessively in my review of Horns of Honor , my ninth grade field trip to and focus on the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries have pretty much burnt me out on all things regarding said tapestries for the rest of my life The Self Cannibals Ok, so it would be hard to make this one uninteresting I hate the title, as it all at once sensationalizes and actually diminishes the magnitude of its subject, Lesch Nyhan Syndrome which and I m oversimplifying here is a sex linked genetic disorder that causes the individuals to be self destructive in capacities both physical and mental The patient in the photo below which I believe is from around 1987 , is outfitted with a special helmet and limited motion elbow orthoses to prevent him from engaging in any number of possible behaviors The possibilities are, of course, limitless At one point, one of the subjects interviewed by Preston asks him to get rid of his pencil because he worries that he ll stab it through his hand Though the individuals involved in this essay were interesting and timeless in their own way, I was left feeling like I was only getting part of the scientific picture Advances in deep brain stimulation and the like, while certainly nowhere near solving the mysteries of a syndrome as complex as Lesch Nyhan, have revealed much about mental feedback loops relating to emotion and impulse control etc enough that I found myself wanting to interrupt the written dialogue I guess, then, it s my own lack of impulse control that left me feeling so annoyed by this last in Preston s collection of essays However, overall, I just felt like this wasn t particularly good science writing I was a bit disappointed when I received this book and realized that it was a collection of six separate stories, and not all of them were about scary germs My disappointment, however, was short lived Richard Preston has expanded and updated pieces he has written for The New Yorker about different, yet somewhat related, topics in science.Preston s Introduction Adventures in Nonfiction Writing gives interesting insights into the process of writing, while illustrating such research experience I was a bit disappointed when I received this book and realized that it was a collection of six separate stories, and not all of them were about scary germs My disappointment, however, was short lived Richard Preston has expanded and updated pieces he has written for The New Yorker about different, yet somewhat related, topics in science.Preston s Introduction Adventures in Nonfiction Writing gives interesting insights into the process of writing, while illustrating such research experiences as wearing a space suit that came unzipped in a Biosafety Level 4 lab This is a great introduction to the stories that resulted from his process The Mountains of Pi is the fascinating account of slightly eccentric brothers Gregory and David Chudnovsky, one mathematician divided between two bodies who build a supercomputer from mail order parts in Gregory s apartment They needed it to calculate pi to two billion decimal places so they could search for patterns in the number.A Death in the Forest tells of the decimation of hemlocks by the woolly adelgid, a parasitic insect Think a condensed version ofThe Wild Treeswith a bit ofThe Hot Zonestirred in It is a sobering reminder of the delicacy of our ecosystem.The Search for Ebola covers the 1994 outbreak in Kikwit Although it mentions one or two of the same doctors fromThe Hot Zone , it is not repetitious The Human Kabbalah is about the Human Genome Project and the institutional politics and people involved I was not enthralled by the lengthy details of the turf wars, but it was eye opening to see how individual agendas can hinder scientific research The Lost Unicorn gives the history of a series of seven tapestries titled collectivelyThe Hunt of the UnicornThe Chudnovsky brothers and their homemade supercomputer also play an interesting role in this story.The Self Cannibals is about a horrific and heartbreaking genetic disorder known as Lesch Nyhan Syndrome, which produces symptoms such as coprolalia, involuntary self mutilation, and poor muscle control This was a factor in the fictitious super bug featured inThe Cobra Event I m a fan of science writing, and with a sub title like this one, how could I resist I listened to the audiobook, which was well narrated by James Lurie.The first thing to know about this collection of essays it that they were all previously published in The New Yorker, and in creating this book the author added to those original essays And that is the biggest complaint I have about this collection it needs tighter editing I ve no doubt that I d have given the original essays a five star ra I m a fan of science writing, and with a sub title like this one, how could I resist I listened to the audiobook, which was well narrated by James Lurie.The first thing to know about this collection of essays it that they were all previously published in The New Yorker, and in creating this book the author added to those original essays And that is the biggest complaint I have about this collection it needs tighter editing I ve no doubt that I d have given the original essays a five star rating This collection had some rambling sections, but I was entertained and educated and for that I m rounding up my 3.5 rating to 4.1 The Mountains of Pi This is an interesting account of eccentric genius brothers Gregroy and David Chudnovsky, who built a supercomputer from mail order parts in Gregory s apartment The brothers are interesting for sure, but after this essay, I have a renewed respect for the fascinating number that is Pi.2 A Death in the Forest.When I think of extinction, I do not often think in terms of trees This is an informative essay about the decimation of hemlocks by an insect, and some of the efforts by people trying to save the trees.3 The Search for Ebola.There might be a scarier way to die, but while learning about the 1994 outbreak in Kikwit, I could not think of one.4 The Human Kabbalah.The Human Genome Project is fascinating, and while I loved the science, I was bored by the long discourse on the political scientific turf wars.5 The Lost Unicorn.The history of seven tapestries and the art and science of how they were cleaned and photographed was interesting The brothers Chudnovsky play a role in this one too.6 The Self Cannibals.This essay had me running to Google How is it that I d never heard of this genetic disorder before Lesch Nyhan affects about 1 in 400,000 births, and the symptoms are horrifying This isn t one of my favourite Richard Preston books that s probably the hot zone , but I do enjoy his writing style and how he writes scientific dialogue into a way that is easy to understand, but I struggled through a few bits of this book I have to admit I skim read a couple of stories in this book This is a collection of essays on various scientific subjects and I mainly tuned in for the ones relating to viruses At some point, I may come back and give the othersof my attention F This isn t one of my favourite Richard Preston books that s probably the hot zone , but I do enjoy his writing style and how he writes scientific dialogue into a way that is easy to understand, but I struggled through a few bits of this book I have to admit I skim read a couple of stories in this book This is a collection of essays on various scientific subjects and I mainly tuned in for the ones relating to viruses At some point, I may come back and give the othersof my attention Favourite stories were blood kiss, and the introduction which details how he goes about doing his research with a few level 4 hot zone stories Interesting essays on a wide variety of subjects My favourites were the essay on the Chudnovsky brothers and their search for Pi, and the essay on Lesch Nyhan syndrome a horrifying genetic disorder that causes its sufferers to chew off their own fingers and faces Fascinating stuff Three and a half stars. Some interesting reading here, but doesn t read like a suspense thriller like Preston s Hot Zone and other works Found myself mired in too much detail at times even bored at times In addition, some of it is very sad when he talks about hemlock trees going extinct and people who are driven to cannibalize themselves But I m not sorry I read the book. Not quite what I expected when I picked up this non fiction audiobook from the library, but it was still an interesting read I guess by the title I was expecting hysteria, but it feltlike random stories threaded together loosely by a journalist Subjects covered in the book include 1 How to take notes inside a Level 4 Containment Area when you can t write on paper No panic The story of a malfunctioning zipper Listening to this section of the audiobook reminded me of scenes from the m Not quite what I expected when I picked up this non fiction audiobook from the library, but it was still an interesting read I guess by the title I was expecting hysteria, but it feltlike random stories threaded together loosely by a journalist Subjects covered in the book include 1 How to take notes inside a Level 4 Containment Area when you can t write on paper No panic The story of a malfunctioning zipper Listening to this section of the audiobook reminded me of scenes from the movie OUTBREAK where Dustin Hoffman runs around in his special protective suit and feeds IV tubes filled with orange juice into patients veins Okay, so it wasn t really orange juice it just looked like it to me Find the monkey Love that movie and all its cheesy goodness.2 Inside a supercomputer built in a NYC apartment convergence on transcendental mathematics as both an art and a madness can we see God inI was not anticipating nearly an hour of the audiobook be dedicated to the hunt for pi Happily, I minored in Mathematics in college, so it wasn t too painful for me in the end, even if it reminded me of how crazy academics can be in reality and brought back flashbacks of a computer science professor who slowly drove me insane with theories of computation shiver The other thing I got out of reading this section of the book is how very un intelligent I am in reality Always good to read about the minds of others to bring yourself down several pegs I can t imagine building a supercomputer in my apartment with things I purchased from Home Depot Then again, I wouldn t know how to construct a supercomputer to begin with hardware has never been my forte 3 Tree climbing to save the Hemlock tree release the Japanese beetles The journalist was following a guy whose job it was to climb and measure trees How do you stumble into that job It seems like a kid s dream Mom When I grow up, I m going to climb trees for a living Okay, so I m sure he probably has a biology or botany degree and does things other than just climb trees Still Sounds like fun to the ex camp counselor in me I also had no idea you could buy cups of beetles for thousands of dollars You learn something new everyday, I guess.4 Ebola inside an African Hospital in the 1970s don t immediately wipe the tears off your own face with the same handkerchief you use to wipe the face of an Ebola victim I found the story of the hospital that had an X ray machine, but didn t have running water or bedpans to be interesting The author mentioned that the patients families would bring in a clay pot for the patients waste EEK 5 Patenting DNA and mapping the human genome clustering of micro biologists near the NIH don t let thieves steal your gene code when you re not looking Anyone who remembers the stock market bubble at the turn of this century will likely interest from this story.6 Colors of the Medieval unicorn tapestries that haven t seen sunlight in hundreds of years bring out the mathematicians to help with digital imaging and discover that the tapestry is moving and alive Number theory and colors Billions of calculations to figure out colors for reproductions of art Hmmmm Completely unrelated thought whenever I play the boardgame Balderdash, I always feel a need to have a definition for one of the words as a rare form of Medieval tapestry , though usually slightlyintellectual sounding in its definition It used to work at fooling people, but my family and friends have caught on, so no luck with that any Oh well I don t play Balderdash very often, so I can t help slipping it in everytime I play 7 Putting Poe s imp of the perverse to sleep studying genetic disorders diseases you found what in that diaperThese poor children the author talked about in this section of the book So sad Can you imagine being a parent where you child seems like he is slowly chewing himself to death I hope the researchers can find a cure A grown man with the disorder had to ask the reporter with a mechanical pencil to step away from him because he was worried the disease would compel him to grab and stab himself in the eye with it A compulsive urge to hurt yourself with your own hands and mouth I can t even imagine Panic in Level 4 is a collection of expanded and updated articles author Richard Preston wrote for The New Yorker on a seriously diverse group of topics that end up being interrelated if you look hard enough The author has long been a favorite of mine, and is one of the best around at making difficult scientific topics accessible to ordinary people, without dumbing it down and taking all the scholarship out of it His books read like thrillers, but at the end you realize you ve really learned s Panic in Level 4 is a collection of expanded and updated articles author Richard Preston wrote for The New Yorker on a seriously diverse group of topics that end up being interrelated if you look hard enough The author has long been a favorite of mine, and is one of the best around at making difficult scientific topics accessible to ordinary people, without dumbing it down and taking all the scholarship out of it His books read like thrillers, but at the end you realize you ve really learned something, and had a great time along the way The stories The Mountains of Pi two Russian immigrant brothers who happen to be world class mathematicians build a supercomputer in their Manhattan apartment in an attempt to calculate pi to two billion digits They are both fascinating people, and so, it turns out, is their quest The author had math loathing me convinced of the beauty of numbers by the time he was done, which is no small trick A Death in the Forest In 1911, a rich woman said I want a Japanese garden on my Virginia estate , and, being rich, she made it happen, importing the costliest evergreens from all over the world In the process, she may have imported the hemlock woolly adelgid, a species of Asian insect that is on track to destroy every single eastern hemlock tree in North America unless a solution can be found There s a lesson here The Search for Ebola Traces the origins of the Ebola virus in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a familiar topic if you ve read some of the author s other books The Human Kabbalah The battle between the Human Genome Project and Celera Genomics group to decipher the complete sequence of nucleotides letters in human DNA It s a sinister preview of things to come, as corporate biotech firms continue to privatize their discoveries and parcel their findings out to the highest bidder Your seriously ill child will get a cure but only if you re able to pay, and pay a LOT The free market at its finest The Lost Unicorn Describes the problems inherent in creating a single high resolution digital image of both sides of each of the priceless Unicorn Tapestries that are hung at the Cloisters an process which turned out to be muchcomplicated than first thought, and ended up involving the two mathematicians from part 1 This turned out to be my favorite part of the book owing to my interest in art and photography, perhaps , and it created a burning desire in me to run down to NYC and see these marvelous tapestries for myself Fascinating fact I learned it takes a skilled weaver a hour to create a single square inch of tapestry The Self Cannibals An in depth look at Lesch Nyhan Syndrome, a rare and terrifying genetic disease that causes uncontrollable self mutilation The author ends up spending quite a bit of time with two men who survived to adulthood despite the incomprehensibly awful effects of the disease Their stories, and especially how they ve kept their senses of humor underscore how vital it is that we keep making scientific discoveries This book contains a collection of essays originally published in The New Yorker It made for an interesting read but at times it become repetitive as a few of the essays were on related things and so necessitated the same basic background information which I m sure was useful when they were originally published over several issues but became merely annoying when read in quick succession The introduction is an essay itself, and the only one to take place inside USAMRIID s Level 4 It reminded m This book contains a collection of essays originally published in The New Yorker It made for an interesting read but at times it become repetitive as a few of the essays were on related things and so necessitated the same basic background information which I m sure was useful when they were originally published over several issues but became merely annoying when read in quick succession The introduction is an essay itself, and the only one to take place inside USAMRIID s Level 4 It reminded me a little of Outbreak It was fascinating to learn about some of the safety precautions, andthan a little unnerving to realize that even in Level 4 there s still some amount of old, worn out equipment that still gets used This introductory essay was farinteresting than a later, shorter essay on two strains of Ebola.I thought the most interesting parts of the books were those that dealt with the Chudnovsky brothers The brothers are mathematicians who also make supercomputers from mail order parts The supercomputer in the first essay, m zero, was used to calculate pi to over 2 billion places The second computer, Home Depot Thing, or It, was used to reconstruct one of the unicorn tapestries The essay on trees wasn t particularly interesting Yes, we keep importing bugs that kill native trees It s not a particularly new topic and Preston didn t really have anything to add to it The essay on the race to sequence the human genome was slightlyinteresting.The section on the self cannibalism disease was both fascinating and deeply disturbing This has to be one of the most difficult diseases to live with It s one thing if you can t trust your body not to fail, something else to not be able to trust your body not to physically attack you and cause you tremendous pain

Panic in Level 4: Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other
    This guide aims to show you how to download the number piIn fascinating, intimate, and exhilarating detail, Richard Preston portrays the frightening forces and constructive discoveries that are currently roiling and reordering our world, once again proving himself a master of the nonfiction narrative and, as noted in The Washington Post, a science writer with an uncommon gift for turning complex biology into riveting page turners From the Hardcover edition. Probably should have read the synopsis a bit better.Going into this based off of the titles, I thought it would be interesting to learn about Level 4, the place where the most dangerous viruses are quarantined where they can be studied in an attempt to learnabout them and possibly develop a cure.The introduction begins with the author and his journey into Level 4, a place where very few people go, much less ones that aren t directly working with the viruses in question The introduction en Probably should have read the synopsis a bit better.Going into this based off of the titles, I thought it would be interesting to learn about Level 4, the place where the most dangerous viruses are quarantined where they can be studied in an attempt to learnabout them and possibly develop a cure.The introduction begins with the author and his journey into Level 4, a place where very few people go, much less ones that aren t directly working with the viruses in question The introduction ends and suddenly, we re learning about Chudnovsky brothers and the supercomputer they built in order to generate billions of digits of pi in order to find some sort of pattern.I went back and read the synopsis because I was so confused as to what pi had to do with viruses.This book isn t really about Level 4, but instead a collection of travels the author has done to people that are on the edge of science Calculating pi, saving North American hemlocks, ebola and Lesch Nyhan Syndrome are some of the topics covered The book jumps around quite a lot, and should be considered as separate stories One could easily pick up any chapter in this book and read it from start to finish without the other chapters.Which is fine Except one of the later stories references the Chudnovsky brothers, and so I had to re read all about the brothers even though I had just met them and learned fara few chapters before.I found some of the chapters interesting simply because of the subject matter, but the author s personal anecdotes quickly became quite dull as he went on and on about what the person was wearing the particular day he met them, or other facts that weren t particularly relevant.I think if you are interested learning what is happening in science and all about the scientists performing this might be a worthwhile read, but for me I could have probably read 2 chapters out of them all and been done In introducing this collection of essays, Richard Preston reflects on the nature and constraints of writing narrative non fiction Basically, Preston is using Panic as an opportunity to add to or modify his pieces many of which originally appeared as articles in The New Yorker and give the reader a fuller sense of things that, for whatever reason, were left unsaid at the time The first example of this to which the title refers being his potential exposure to a Level 4 hazardous disease, In introducing this collection of essays, Richard Preston reflects on the nature and constraints of writing narrative non fiction Basically, Preston is using Panic as an opportunity to add to or modify his pieces many of which originally appeared as articles in The New Yorker and give the reader a fuller sense of things that, for whatever reason, were left unsaid at the time The first example of this to which the title refers being his potential exposure to a Level 4 hazardous disease, possibly a strain of Ebola, while doing his research for The Hot Zone an anecdote he omitted in the book in order to maintain a proper distance from the subject of his writing Mountains of Pi Technology evolves at an exponential rate at least according to Ray Kurzweil , so I finally had to stop part way into this story to find its original date of publication as it turns out, March 2, 1992 It s not that reflections on research in computer science and mathematics from twenty years ago is irrelevant, I simply needed a point of reference This is a profile of two brothers, David and Gregory Volfovich Chudnovsky, who built a supercomputer in their apartment in pursuit of pi They are certainly an interesting pair, Russian immigrants who are so close that they describe themselves as a single mathematician who, by chance, occupy two human bodies I did not have an easy time getting into this story Part of it, of course, is that I am not a theoretical mathematician However, one of the things I love about an author like Douglas Hofstadter though he and Preston do not necessarily address the same content is his use of analogy to give his readers the opportunity to grab on to something to help them build a mental model for understanding the idea of a theory or subject they might not otherwise be able to comprehend Preston jumps quickly to the notion of seeing God through pi, and to referring to numbers and equations as beautiful and transcendental, but without giving me the leg up I required to get a sense of what that might mean For example The Chudnovsky formula for pi is thought to be extremely beautiful by persons who have a good feel for numbers I m sure that there are plenty of people who would find this to be a fascinating essay probably people who have a good feel for numbers and, indeed, I found the characters interesting enough, but I just never got the foothold I needed in order to enjoy it per se All those other essays It s a testament to just how much I did not enjoy this book that I m having trouble mustering the energy to go through the next several essays piece by piece A Death in the Forest about invasive exotics, in this case, the wooly adelgid and The Human Kabbalah which discusses the human genome project just felt like old news to me The Search For Ebola was most interesting in its reflections on human fallibility in this case, doctors knee jerk responses to help patients that, at times, put them in direct contact with the virus With regard to The Lost Unicorn , as I whined about perhaps excessively in my review of Horns of Honor , my ninth grade field trip to and focus on the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries have pretty much burnt me out on all things regarding said tapestries for the rest of my life The Self Cannibals Ok, so it would be hard to make this one uninteresting I hate the title, as it all at once sensationalizes and actually diminishes the magnitude of its subject, Lesch Nyhan Syndrome which and I m oversimplifying here is a sex linked genetic disorder that causes the individuals to be self destructive in capacities both physical and mental The patient in the photo below which I believe is from around 1987 , is outfitted with a special helmet and limited motion elbow orthoses to prevent him from engaging in any number of possible behaviors The possibilities are, of course, limitless At one point, one of the subjects interviewed by Preston asks him to get rid of his pencil because he worries that he ll stab it through his hand Though the individuals involved in this essay were interesting and timeless in their own way, I was left feeling like I was only getting part of the scientific picture Advances in deep brain stimulation and the like, while certainly nowhere near solving the mysteries of a syndrome as complex as Lesch Nyhan, have revealed much about mental feedback loops relating to emotion and impulse control etc enough that I found myself wanting to interrupt the written dialogue I guess, then, it s my own lack of impulse control that left me feeling so annoyed by this last in Preston s collection of essays However, overall, I just felt like this wasn t particularly good science writing I was a bit disappointed when I received this book and realized that it was a collection of six separate stories, and not all of them were about scary germs My disappointment, however, was short lived Richard Preston has expanded and updated pieces he has written for The New Yorker about different, yet somewhat related, topics in science.Preston s Introduction Adventures in Nonfiction Writing gives interesting insights into the process of writing, while illustrating such research experience I was a bit disappointed when I received this book and realized that it was a collection of six separate stories, and not all of them were about scary germs My disappointment, however, was short lived Richard Preston has expanded and updated pieces he has written for The New Yorker about different, yet somewhat related, topics in science.Preston s Introduction Adventures in Nonfiction Writing gives interesting insights into the process of writing, while illustrating such research experiences as wearing a space suit that came unzipped in a Biosafety Level 4 lab This is a great introduction to the stories that resulted from his process The Mountains of Pi is the fascinating account of slightly eccentric brothers Gregory and David Chudnovsky, one mathematician divided between two bodies who build a supercomputer from mail order parts in Gregory s apartment They needed it to calculate pi to two billion decimal places so they could search for patterns in the number.A Death in the Forest tells of the decimation of hemlocks by the woolly adelgid, a parasitic insect Think a condensed version ofThe Wild Treeswith a bit ofThe Hot Zonestirred in It is a sobering reminder of the delicacy of our ecosystem.The Search for Ebola covers the 1994 outbreak in Kikwit Although it mentions one or two of the same doctors fromThe Hot Zone , it is not repetitious The Human Kabbalah is about the Human Genome Project and the institutional politics and people involved I was not enthralled by the lengthy details of the turf wars, but it was eye opening to see how individual agendas can hinder scientific research The Lost Unicorn gives the history of a series of seven tapestries titled collectivelyThe Hunt of the UnicornThe Chudnovsky brothers and their homemade supercomputer also play an interesting role in this story.The Self Cannibals is about a horrific and heartbreaking genetic disorder known as Lesch Nyhan Syndrome, which produces symptoms such as coprolalia, involuntary self mutilation, and poor muscle control This was a factor in the fictitious super bug featured inThe Cobra Event I m a fan of science writing, and with a sub title like this one, how could I resist I listened to the audiobook, which was well narrated by James Lurie.The first thing to know about this collection of essays it that they were all previously published in The New Yorker, and in creating this book the author added to those original essays And that is the biggest complaint I have about this collection it needs tighter editing I ve no doubt that I d have given the original essays a five star ra I m a fan of science writing, and with a sub title like this one, how could I resist I listened to the audiobook, which was well narrated by James Lurie.The first thing to know about this collection of essays it that they were all previously published in The New Yorker, and in creating this book the author added to those original essays And that is the biggest complaint I have about this collection it needs tighter editing I ve no doubt that I d have given the original essays a five star rating This collection had some rambling sections, but I was entertained and educated and for that I m rounding up my 3.5 rating to 4.1 The Mountains of Pi This is an interesting account of eccentric genius brothers Gregroy and David Chudnovsky, who built a supercomputer from mail order parts in Gregory s apartment The brothers are interesting for sure, but after this essay, I have a renewed respect for the fascinating number that is Pi.2 A Death in the Forest.When I think of extinction, I do not often think in terms of trees This is an informative essay about the decimation of hemlocks by an insect, and some of the efforts by people trying to save the trees.3 The Search for Ebola.There might be a scarier way to die, but while learning about the 1994 outbreak in Kikwit, I could not think of one.4 The Human Kabbalah.The Human Genome Project is fascinating, and while I loved the science, I was bored by the long discourse on the political scientific turf wars.5 The Lost Unicorn.The history of seven tapestries and the art and science of how they were cleaned and photographed was interesting The brothers Chudnovsky play a role in this one too.6 The Self Cannibals.This essay had me running to Google How is it that I d never heard of this genetic disorder before Lesch Nyhan affects about 1 in 400,000 births, and the symptoms are horrifying This isn t one of my favourite Richard Preston books that s probably the hot zone , but I do enjoy his writing style and how he writes scientific dialogue into a way that is easy to understand, but I struggled through a few bits of this book I have to admit I skim read a couple of stories in this book This is a collection of essays on various scientific subjects and I mainly tuned in for the ones relating to viruses At some point, I may come back and give the othersof my attention F This isn t one of my favourite Richard Preston books that s probably the hot zone , but I do enjoy his writing style and how he writes scientific dialogue into a way that is easy to understand, but I struggled through a few bits of this book I have to admit I skim read a couple of stories in this book This is a collection of essays on various scientific subjects and I mainly tuned in for the ones relating to viruses At some point, I may come back and give the othersof my attention Favourite stories were blood kiss, and the introduction which details how he goes about doing his research with a few level 4 hot zone stories Interesting essays on a wide variety of subjects My favourites were the essay on the Chudnovsky brothers and their search for Pi, and the essay on Lesch Nyhan syndrome a horrifying genetic disorder that causes its sufferers to chew off their own fingers and faces Fascinating stuff Three and a half stars. Some interesting reading here, but doesn t read like a suspense thriller like Preston s Hot Zone and other works Found myself mired in too much detail at times even bored at times In addition, some of it is very sad when he talks about hemlock trees going extinct and people who are driven to cannibalize themselves But I m not sorry I read the book. Not quite what I expected when I picked up this non fiction audiobook from the library, but it was still an interesting read I guess by the title I was expecting hysteria, but it feltlike random stories threaded together loosely by a journalist Subjects covered in the book include 1 How to take notes inside a Level 4 Containment Area when you can t write on paper No panic The story of a malfunctioning zipper Listening to this section of the audiobook reminded me of scenes from the m Not quite what I expected when I picked up this non fiction audiobook from the library, but it was still an interesting read I guess by the title I was expecting hysteria, but it feltlike random stories threaded together loosely by a journalist Subjects covered in the book include 1 How to take notes inside a Level 4 Containment Area when you can t write on paper No panic The story of a malfunctioning zipper Listening to this section of the audiobook reminded me of scenes from the movie OUTBREAK where Dustin Hoffman runs around in his special protective suit and feeds IV tubes filled with orange juice into patients veins Okay, so it wasn t really orange juice it just looked like it to me Find the monkey Love that movie and all its cheesy goodness.2 Inside a supercomputer built in a NYC apartment convergence on transcendental mathematics as both an art and a madness can we see God inI was not anticipating nearly an hour of the audiobook be dedicated to the hunt for pi Happily, I minored in Mathematics in college, so it wasn t too painful for me in the end, even if it reminded me of how crazy academics can be in reality and brought back flashbacks of a computer science professor who slowly drove me insane with theories of computation shiver The other thing I got out of reading this section of the book is how very un intelligent I am in reality Always good to read about the minds of others to bring yourself down several pegs I can t imagine building a supercomputer in my apartment with things I purchased from Home Depot Then again, I wouldn t know how to construct a supercomputer to begin with hardware has never been my forte 3 Tree climbing to save the Hemlock tree release the Japanese beetles The journalist was following a guy whose job it was to climb and measure trees How do you stumble into that job It seems like a kid s dream Mom When I grow up, I m going to climb trees for a living Okay, so I m sure he probably has a biology or botany degree and does things other than just climb trees Still Sounds like fun to the ex camp counselor in me I also had no idea you could buy cups of beetles for thousands of dollars You learn something new everyday, I guess.4 Ebola inside an African Hospital in the 1970s don t immediately wipe the tears off your own face with the same handkerchief you use to wipe the face of an Ebola victim I found the story of the hospital that had an X ray machine, but didn t have running water or bedpans to be interesting The author mentioned that the patients families would bring in a clay pot for the patients waste EEK 5 Patenting DNA and mapping the human genome clustering of micro biologists near the NIH don t let thieves steal your gene code when you re not looking Anyone who remembers the stock market bubble at the turn of this century will likely interest from this story.6 Colors of the Medieval unicorn tapestries that haven t seen sunlight in hundreds of years bring out the mathematicians to help with digital imaging and discover that the tapestry is moving and alive Number theory and colors Billions of calculations to figure out colors for reproductions of art Hmmmm Completely unrelated thought whenever I play the boardgame Balderdash, I always feel a need to have a definition for one of the words as a rare form of Medieval tapestry , though usually slightlyintellectual sounding in its definition It used to work at fooling people, but my family and friends have caught on, so no luck with that any Oh well I don t play Balderdash very often, so I can t help slipping it in everytime I play 7 Putting Poe s imp of the perverse to sleep studying genetic disorders diseases you found what in that diaperThese poor children the author talked about in this section of the book So sad Can you imagine being a parent where you child seems like he is slowly chewing himself to death I hope the researchers can find a cure A grown man with the disorder had to ask the reporter with a mechanical pencil to step away from him because he was worried the disease would compel him to grab and stab himself in the eye with it A compulsive urge to hurt yourself with your own hands and mouth I can t even imagine Panic in Level 4 is a collection of expanded and updated articles author Richard Preston wrote for The New Yorker on a seriously diverse group of topics that end up being interrelated if you look hard enough The author has long been a favorite of mine, and is one of the best around at making difficult scientific topics accessible to ordinary people, without dumbing it down and taking all the scholarship out of it His books read like thrillers, but at the end you realize you ve really learned s Panic in Level 4 is a collection of expanded and updated articles author Richard Preston wrote for The New Yorker on a seriously diverse group of topics that end up being interrelated if you look hard enough The author has long been a favorite of mine, and is one of the best around at making difficult scientific topics accessible to ordinary people, without dumbing it down and taking all the scholarship out of it His books read like thrillers, but at the end you realize you ve really learned something, and had a great time along the way The stories The Mountains of Pi two Russian immigrant brothers who happen to be world class mathematicians build a supercomputer in their Manhattan apartment in an attempt to calculate pi to two billion digits They are both fascinating people, and so, it turns out, is their quest The author had math loathing me convinced of the beauty of numbers by the time he was done, which is no small trick A Death in the Forest In 1911, a rich woman said I want a Japanese garden on my Virginia estate , and, being rich, she made it happen, importing the costliest evergreens from all over the world In the process, she may have imported the hemlock woolly adelgid, a species of Asian insect that is on track to destroy every single eastern hemlock tree in North America unless a solution can be found There s a lesson here The Search for Ebola Traces the origins of the Ebola virus in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a familiar topic if you ve read some of the author s other books The Human Kabbalah The battle between the Human Genome Project and Celera Genomics group to decipher the complete sequence of nucleotides letters in human DNA It s a sinister preview of things to come, as corporate biotech firms continue to privatize their discoveries and parcel their findings out to the highest bidder Your seriously ill child will get a cure but only if you re able to pay, and pay a LOT The free market at its finest The Lost Unicorn Describes the problems inherent in creating a single high resolution digital image of both sides of each of the priceless Unicorn Tapestries that are hung at the Cloisters an process which turned out to be muchcomplicated than first thought, and ended up involving the two mathematicians from part 1 This turned out to be my favorite part of the book owing to my interest in art and photography, perhaps , and it created a burning desire in me to run down to NYC and see these marvelous tapestries for myself Fascinating fact I learned it takes a skilled weaver a hour to create a single square inch of tapestry The Self Cannibals An in depth look at Lesch Nyhan Syndrome, a rare and terrifying genetic disease that causes uncontrollable self mutilation The author ends up spending quite a bit of time with two men who survived to adulthood despite the incomprehensibly awful effects of the disease Their stories, and especially how they ve kept their senses of humor underscore how vital it is that we keep making scientific discoveries This book contains a collection of essays originally published in The New Yorker It made for an interesting read but at times it become repetitive as a few of the essays were on related things and so necessitated the same basic background information which I m sure was useful when they were originally published over several issues but became merely annoying when read in quick succession The introduction is an essay itself, and the only one to take place inside USAMRIID s Level 4 It reminded m This book contains a collection of essays originally published in The New Yorker It made for an interesting read but at times it become repetitive as a few of the essays were on related things and so necessitated the same basic background information which I m sure was useful when they were originally published over several issues but became merely annoying when read in quick succession The introduction is an essay itself, and the only one to take place inside USAMRIID s Level 4 It reminded me a little of Outbreak It was fascinating to learn about some of the safety precautions, andthan a little unnerving to realize that even in Level 4 there s still some amount of old, worn out equipment that still gets used This introductory essay was farinteresting than a later, shorter essay on two strains of Ebola.I thought the most interesting parts of the books were those that dealt with the Chudnovsky brothers The brothers are mathematicians who also make supercomputers from mail order parts The supercomputer in the first essay, m zero, was used to calculate pi to over 2 billion places The second computer, Home Depot Thing, or It, was used to reconstruct one of the unicorn tapestries The essay on trees wasn t particularly interesting Yes, we keep importing bugs that kill native trees It s not a particularly new topic and Preston didn t really have anything to add to it The essay on the race to sequence the human genome was slightlyinteresting.The section on the self cannibalism disease was both fascinating and deeply disturbing This has to be one of the most difficult diseases to live with It s one thing if you can t trust your body not to fail, something else to not be able to trust your body not to physically attack you and cause you tremendous pain "/>
  • Hardcover
  • 188 pages
  • Panic in Level 4: Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science
  • Richard Preston
  • English
  • 23 August 2019
  • 1400064902