Synopses & Reviews
Within days of being born, we are infected with billions of E. coli. They will inhabit each and every one of us until we die. E. coli is notorious for making people gravely ill, but engineered strains of the bacteria save millions of lives each year.
- Despite its microscopic size, it contains over four thousand genes that operate a staggeringly sophisticated network of millions of molecules.
- Scientists are rebuilding E. coli from the ground up, redefining what it means to be alive.
In the tradition of classics like Lewis Thomas' Lives of a Cell
, Carl Zimmer has written a fascinating and utterly accessible investigation into what it means to be alive. Zimmer traces E. coli's remarkable history, as scientists used it to discover how genes work and then to launch the entire biotechnology industry. While some strains of E. coli grab headlines by causing deadly diseases, scientists are retooling the bacteria to produce everything from human insulin to jet fuel.
Microcosm is the story of the one species on Earth science knows best of all. It's also a story of life itself, of its rules, its mysteries, and its future.
"Microcosm could well be entitled 'Fantastic Voyage.' Carl Zimmer, one of our most talented and respected science writers, guides is on a memorable journey into the invisible but amazing world within and around a tiny bacterium. He reveals a life-or-death battle every bit as dramatic as that on the Serengeti and one that offers profound insights into how life is made and evolves. Microcosm expands our sense of wonder by illuminating a microscopic universe few could imagine and instills a sense of pride in the great achievements of the scientists who have discovered and mastered its workings." Sean B. Carroll, author of Endless Forms Most Beautiful and The Making of the Fittest
"Zimmer employs imagery to great effect, leaving the reader with the sense of having attended a well-executed museum exhibit intended for intelligent adults." Library Journal
"Strong on the logic behind controlled experiments, Zimmer renders an absorbing picture of what E. coli says about the history and future of life." Booklist
"Provides plenty of gee-whiz moments." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Carl Zimmer writes about science for The New York Times, and his work also appears in National Geographic, Scientific American, and Discover, where he is a contributing editor. He won a 2007 National Academies Communication Award, the highest honor for science writing. He is the author of five previous books, including Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea and Parasite Rex, for which he has earned fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Zimmer also writes an award-winning blog, The Loom. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and children.