The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher

Thomas, Lewis
Penguin 1974
ISBN 978-0140047431
153pp
Date finished: 2011-11-13

I read this book as a teenager and revisited it now for a science-book club. It consists of short 3-6 page pieces originally published in the New England Journal of Medicine from 1971 to 1973. The subject is mostly biology, with a few medical and linguistic topics scattered through the table of contents. They've held up really well for 40-year-old science essays, though an annotated version that noted which discoveries and possibilities have panned out would be great. He's fascinated by the social insects, by the fact of mitochondria, chloroplasts, and cilia being symbiotic organisms with their own DNA, and by the Gaia-like possibility that Earth is itself a vast entity with its own feedback loops. I didn't like the language-related essays very much because they read as if Thomas couldn't come up with an idea and resorted to copying etymologies from the OED, but they're a minor flaw in an otherwise very fine set of essays.

Tagged: biology, essays

Permalink: http://books.amk.ca/2011/11/Lives_Cell.html

%T The Lives of a Cell
%S Notes of a Biology Watcher
%A Thomas, Lewis
%@ 2011-11-13
%G ISBN 978-0140047431
%P 153pp
%I Penguin
%K biology, essays
%D 1974

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