Saturday, October 20, 2007

Odds and Ends - helices and mysteries

Dewey is hosting a 24-hour read-a-thon today. I'm sorry I can't join them but I'll be studying all day so that'll be a read-a-thon of sorts. Go team go.

wood s lot has an image of a spiral staircase today which is straight out of a dream - gorgeous. That is not it above - that's a sculpture of the DNA molecule at the Centre for Life in Newcastle, which brings me to my next tidbit... The ragazzo had to go to a conference early this morning, so I was up with the birds and listened to some of On the Media, a program I like on NPR which is on rather early. They had a segment on a book that won't be out until next year but sounds fascinating - science and technology writer David Ewing is coming out with a book called Experimental Man, which is about a burgeoning industry - genetic tests marketed directly to the "health consumer," as they are now called. And his own experience gathering this information about himself. In it he ponders the consequences of this development, the wisdom of sidestepping a doctor - what can one do with this information? How poorly prepared many doctors are to deal with their patients having the information. Is its availability dangerous? Will future presidential candidates have to hire interns to pick up all the possible DNA they've left behind at rallies or interviews so some genetic vigilante won't send off for an analysis and report the condition of their genes on NPR? Here is a link to his website.

Finally, I've begun reading David Leavitt's The Indian Clerk. Set at Cambridge in the early 20th Century, it is a fictionalized version of the friendship between G. H. Hardy, the British mathematician and Ramanujan - the Indian clerk of the title - who it turns out is a self-taught mathematical genius. David Leavitt has so far fashioned a convincing narrative voice for Hardy and creates the atmosphere of combined erudition and provincialism that characterizes many university towns - especially Cambridge and Oxford, it seems, as it is so often the subject of novels and films. I've always thought the Inspector Morse mysteries produced for BBC around 15 or 20 years ago and set in Oxford really got at that. I love those mysteries. Great for a stay-at-home Saturday dinner with a bottle of wine.

And now, I had better study for my midterm.


Dewey said...

Experimental Man sounds like it would be a very creepy read, one that would make the reader feel a bit paranoid.

Ted said...

Dewey- It seems in that typical pop-science mode where the writer makes himself the guinea pig and finds out first what there is to know and then tries to test out the consequence of that knowledge through their own experience. I'm hoping it's neither sensationalist nor too cute - the writer does seem to have the credentials to write on the subject, he's done several book on genetics related subjects. The consequences he's trying to imagine will be crystal gazing to some extent so, we'll see.
Congrats on your smashing read-a-thon!