July 6, 2008


Carl Zimmer's new book Microcosm is so awesome, they created an online book club for it. I know I'd just read his Evolution and had other things in my stack, but there it was at the library in the New Books section, taunting me with it's shiny newness.

He uses the study of E. coli as a springboard for the study and questioning of life itself. It was great because it brought all the stuff in Evolution up to the modern microbiology and beyond. Did you know microbiology isn't much older than I am? In 1967, scientists cracked E. coli's genetic code. That was the first species we did and it led to some Nobel prizes and the creation of microbiology as a science.

The history is covered in the first chapter, but the last two chapters, in which Zimmer discusses the ethical quandaries and possible future of out microbiological work, get mind-blowing. They take us all the way up to an even newer science, astrobiology. This is something our Phoenix explorer on Mars is working on as you read this.

How cool is that?