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Book Club: “The Violinist’s Thumb” by Sam Kean

Posted on : Aug-04-2012 | By : John | In : Book Club, local

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Cover of our bookAs is the recent trend in our books, this one also has a very long subtitle. Its full name is The Violinist’s Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code. Sam Kean also wrote one of our previous books, The Disappearing Spoon

Kean writes the kinds of books Isaac Asimov used to produce, well-researched but fairly light and easy to read with a wealth of information on a wide variety of scientific topics. The last one was on chemistry and the periodic table. This one is about DNA and genetics. (Asimov wrote about one of these books a month. Other people take several years to write them. It takes dozens of writers to replace him. I really miss Isaac Asimov.)

Kean starts by telling the stories of Gregor Mendel, the discoverer of genes, and Johannes Friedrich Miescher, the discoverer of DNA. (I knew nothing previously about Miescher.) He explains the difference between the two concepts and how they were eventually linked into a full understanding of inheritance and how they explained one of the most important underpinnings of evolutionary theory, descent with modification. Based on the excerpt linked above, I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of this book.

We will be meeting on Saturday, August 25 at 3 PM at our usual place, Harvard’s Northwest Science Building, 52 Oxford St in Cambridge. Bring a snack to share, or just your appetite.

You can RSVP on our Facebook event page.

Mary will be hosting a discussion of the book the next day (Sunday August 26) on-line at the Skepchick Book Club, in case you want to share your thoughts about the book with the world. And remember, as always, there will be a special, relevant recipe for a super duper yummy snack to munch on while discussing the book.

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