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The Lives of a Cell Notes of a Biology Watcher ePUB

Anticipates the kind of writing that will appear frequently as scientists take on poetic language in order to communicate human truths too mysterious for old fashioned commonsense Elegant suggestive clarifying Thomas' humane vision explores the world examines the complex interdependence of all things Extending beyond the usual limitations of biological science into a vast world of hidden relationships this book explores in personal poetic essays to topics such as computers germs language music death insects medicine He writes Once you have become permanently startled as I am by the realization that we are a social species you tend to keep an eye out for the pieces of evidence that this is by large good for usThe lives of a cell Thoughts for a countdown On societies as organismsA fear of pheromones The music of This sphereAn earnest proposal The technology of medicineVibesCeti The long habit Antaeus in Manhattan The MBL Autonomy Organelles as organisms Germs Your very good healthSocial talk Information Death in the openNatural scienceNatural manThe Iks Computers The planning of scienceSome biomythologyOn various wordsLiving language On probability and possibilityThe world's biggest membraneReference Notes


10 thoughts on “The Lives of a Cell Notes of a Biology Watcher

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    I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for quite a while—partially because it has gotten such good reviews online and partially because I like reading essays on biology But now after finishing it I am both confused and disappointed With most books even if I don’t like them I can still understand and appreciate what the author was trying to achieve Not with this The only thing I can think of that could have motivated Lewis Thomas to write this book is sheer egoism He’s the kind of guy you wouldn’t want to be seated next to at a dinner party He would talk your ear off and I bet he laughed at his own jokes too When I try to imagine Lewis Thomas I picture a paunchy white haired fellow with a round ruddy face He is in his New England home furnished with dark oak furniture dressed in a scarlet robe sipping coffee and typing his essays Thomas types in spurts—banging out a few sentences and then pausing to look out his window at his well kept yard He always has a smile on his face when he writes and laughs under his breath every once in a while when he thinks he has been clever And whenever he is particularly impressed with one of his own sentences he calls his wife over who is an expert in feigning enjoyment The best part of this book is the writing but even here I think Thomas is irritating vexing He has the annoying habit of sticking in an extra tidbit after every sentence like this It is as if he always has something extra to say an afterthought After a while I just want him to shut up be quiet That he compared his style with Montaigne’s is obnoxious offensive Montaigne’s writing is free easy Thomas’s style is mannered affected Even if Thomas could be excused for being a middling writer it is hard to excuse his vapid ideas The real solid biological information contained in this book could be found in any intro level biology textbook But instead of actually explaining this information Thomas just uses his educational background to pepper his essays with technical terms that a layreader will have to look up He has no interest in educating the public in his field but only wishes to be admired for his broad learning When Thomas strays away from these basic biological facts which is often the quality gets even worse I would be willing to bet that if Thomas was only slightly less intelligent he would have ended up being a conspiracy theorist and might have been given a show on the History Channel chasing aliens I say this because these essays are filled with pseudo science Thomas repeatedly says that the majority of life on Earth is symbiotic and this is true But he fails to mention that the majority of these symbiotic relationships are parasitic—which undermines his rosy eyed portrait of life on this planet if you ask me Thomas seems to think that it is a biological mistake when a virus makes its host sick I have no idea how a doctor could believe this Most normal symptoms of sickness—sneezing coughing runny nose diarrhea—are ideal ways for a virus to spread He also includes an essay on ways to train our internal organs in the same way dogs can be trained What? Was he high when he wrote this? Wait a minute The I think about it the it makes sense Lewis Thomas was a stoner which explains why many of these essays have intellectual sophistication comparable to Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure Let me summarize one of his essays “Living Language” “Dude what if instead of language being a tool for humans humans were a tool for language Like language is totally alive for real Woahhhh” In fact let me summarize the whole book “Dude what if like the world was really a cell Not like metaphorically though like for real Like wouldn’t that be trippy? Woaahhhh” So I’m perplexed by the number of people who find Thomas to be “thought provoking” I would say he is just about as thought provoking as a conversation with an intoxicated college aged biology major To summarize I am sincerely confused as to why people like this book The writing is pompous and the subject matter alternately frivolous commonplace or provably incorrect Thomas might have made a good science fiction writer but he is not a good science writer