Penn State

Sarah E. Ades - associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life

Author: Carl Zimmer

Book Description:

Microcosm encompasses two aspects that are central to my life as a scientist—scientific discovery and communication of science to the public. This book presents a retrospective of the use of the bacterium, Escherichia coli, as a model organism for fundamental biological processes from the elucidation of the genetic code to molecular evolution. I use E. coli in my own research and enjoyed Zimmer's account of my favorite organism. The second important aspect of this book is that it is written for a general audience, while still being interesting to an expert. Zimmer does a remarkable job of presenting the science in a form accessible to the non-scientist, introducing the scientists at the forefront of E. coli research, and conveying the wonder of scientific discovery. He also discusses the societal implications of the research and shows how seemingly esoteric experiments on a commonplace bacterium can impact everyday life.


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