x, 109 p. : col. ill. ; 23 cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 97-101) and index.
"A contagious living fluid" : tobacco mosaic virus -- Old Companions. The uncommon cold: rhinovirus -- Looking down from the stars: influenza virus -- Rabbits with horns: human papillomavirus -- Everywhere, in All Things. -- The enemy of our enemy: bacteriophages -- The infected ocean: marine phages -- Our inner parasites: endogenous retroviruses -- The Viral Future. The young scourge: human immunodeficiency virus -- Becoming an American: West Nile virus -- Predicting the next plague: severe acute respiratory syndrome and ebola -- The long goodbye: smallpox -- The alien in the watercooler: mimivirus.
Viruses are the smallest living things known to science, and yet they hold the entire planet in their sway. We are most familiar with the viruses that give us colds or the flu, but viruses also cause a vast range of other diseases, including one disorder that makes people sprout branch-like growths as if they were trees. Viruses have been a part of our lives for so long, in fact, that we are actually part virus: the human genome contains more DNA from viruses than our own genes. Meanwhile, scientists are discovering viruses everywhere they look: in the soil, in the ocean, even in deep caves miles underground.This book explores the hidden world of viruses, a world that each of us inhabits. Here the author, science writer and author of Discover magazine's blog The Loom, presents the latest research on how viruses hold sway over our lives and our biosphere, how viruses helped give rise to the first life forms, how viruses are producing new diseases, how we can harness viruses for our own ends, and how viruses will continue to control our fate for years to come. In this eye-opening tour through the frontiers of biology, where scientists are expanding our understanding of life as we know it, we learn that some treatments for the common cold do more harm to us than good; that the world's oceans are home to an astonishing number of viruses; and that the evolution of HIV is now in overdrive, spawning more mutated strains than we care to imagine.
9780226983356 (cloth : alk. paper)
0226983358 (cloth : alk. paper)