Carl Zimmer · 306 pages
Rating: (4.1K votes)
“Some ancient eukaryote swallowed a photosynthesizing bacteria and became a sunlight gathering alga. Millions of years later one of these algae was devoured by a second eukaryote. This new host gutted the alga, casting away its nucleus and its mitochondria, keeping only the chloroplast. That thief of a thief was the ancestor or Plasmodium and Toxoplasma. And this Russian-doll sequence of events explains why you can cure malaria with an antibiotic that kills bacteria: because Plasmodium has a former bacterium inside it doing some vital business.”
“Evolution has taught them that pointless harm will ultimately harm themselves.”
“From Lankaster to Lorenz, scientists have gotten it wrong. Parasites are complex, highly adapted creatures that are at the heart of the story of life. If there hadn't been such high walls dividing scientists who study life - the zoologists, the immunologists, the mathematical biologists, the ecologists - parasites might have been recognized sooner as not disgusting, or at least not merely disgusting. If parasites were so feeble, so lazy, how was it that they could manage to live inside every free-living species and infect billions of people? How could they change with time so that medicines that could once treat them became useless? How could parasites defy vaccines, which could corral brutal killers like smallpox and polio?”
“parasites make up the majority of species on Earth. According to one estimate, parasites may outnumber free-living species four to one. In other words, the study of life is, for the most part, parasitology. The book in your”
“It is we who are the parasites, and Earth the host”
“When Europeans colonized Africa, they helped trigger giant epidemics by forcing people to stay and work in tsetse-infested places. In 1906, Winston Churchill, who was the colonial undersecretary at the time, told the House of Commons that one sleeping sickness epidemic had reduced the population of Uganda from 6.5 million to 2.5 million.”
“In her most recent project, she tested 356 children, ages five to ten, who were brought to Monell to determine their “bliss point” for sugar31. The bliss point is the precise amount of sweetness—no more, no less—that makes food and drink most enjoyable. She was finishing up this project in the fall of 2010 when she agreed to show me some of the methods she had developed. Before we got started, I did a little research on the term bliss point itself. Its origins are murky, having some roots in economic theory. In relation to sugar, however, the term appears to have been coined in the 1970s by a Boston mathematician named Joseph Balintfy, who used computer modeling to predict eating behavior. The concept has obsessed the food industry ever since.”
“Don't be so cynical. You know you believe in love."
"I believe in loving you."
"I love you back more."
“If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh?”
“An unusual beginning must have an unusual end.”
“Every time I want to give up on him, there's always something inside telling me to just give it time.”
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