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19 September 2018

The Tangled Tree, by David Quammen

The talented science writer David Quammen has a new book out, and it’s excellent. The Tangled Tree explores endosymbiosis and horizontal gene transfer, two aspects of evolution that undercut the traditional ever-more-branching “tree of life” vision for the relatedness of living things. The lineage of organisms is not only divergent, but convergent too: populations diverge and sometimes merge, in whole or in part, complicating the traditional “ramose” structure of phylogenetic …

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26 September 2013

The Family That Couldn’t Sleep, by D.T. Max

How do we get sick? Let’s make a list… Genetic disorders; those we inherit from our parents Injuries Environmental issues (obesity, diabetes) Infection by bacteria Infection by fungi Infection by viruses Infection by animals (tapeworms, etc.) Infection by protozoans (ameobae, dysentery, etc.) Infection by carcinogenic cells (e.g. Tasmanian devil contagious mouth cancers) That last one may sound pretty weird, but today’s book is about a weirder one: Infection by proteins …

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