Book Fortyfour: The Social Amoebae

The Social Amoebae, John Tyler Bonner

Slime molds! I had been thinking about saving this for the read-a-thon because it's short and the intro was so witty and sweet and it seemed like a breezy read and then I could be all, hey, look at how smart I am! But boy howdy am I glad that I didn't, because while this was awesome and I loved it, it really took a huge amount of my concentration just to get it. A level of concentration I suspect will be in short supply during the read-a-thon.

But how can you not love a book that opens like so: "I have lived with my beloved slime molds for a long time."

Sure, the first bit was slightly tough going, but that was mostly where he laid the ground work, explaining the life cycle of the slime mold, so knowing some basic biology was somewhat important. But after that it was nothing but exciting facts and interesting experiments and crazy tidbits and the like.

And what this book does really well is make you enjoy learning something. And who doesn't like learning new things? Sure, I have no real investment in knowing anything about slime molds, other than having some good party conversation fodder... but what great fodder! For example, did you know that slime molds are made up of individual amoebae, but once they come together act together as a unit (or slug) toward a single purpose? Crazy! That they are driven by such factors as ammonia gradients, light, oxygen and heat? Nifty! That there are a couple of species that act carnivorously? What the what?!

I also enjoyed how funny Mr. Bonner is and how he approaches his beloved slime molds with both an earnestness and a sense of humor. I appreciate that he wanted to share his love of slime molds with the world and wrote his book in such a way that the layperson, such as myself, could understand it. So yay for science and yay for the scientists who want the rest of the world to love it as much as they do!


Blogger jewelknits said...

I LOVE this review! It made me smile!

Julie @ Knitting and Sundries

October 8, 2010 at 4:12 PM  

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