The Invisible Kingdom: From the Tips of Our Fingers to the Tops of Our Trash, Inside the Curious World of Microbes

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With the wit of Bill Bryson and the spirit of Natalie Angier, Idan Ben-Barak takes us on a fantastic voyage into the infinitesimal world of microbiology. In The Invisible Kingdom, he introduces us to the amazing lives of genes, proteins, bacteria, and viruses, and the ways in which they interact to shape life on Earth. Exploring everything from rotting human teeth, radioactive waste, and the inner-workings of antibiotics, Ben-Barak reveals how important these tiny critters are to all of us. He brings this largely unseen world to life with refreshing analogies and metaphors: cells “pop like bubbles” and bacteria “dream of rain.” On the journey, we learn about the teamwork required to rot human teeth, the origins of diseases and antibiotic resistance, and the ways in which microbes benefit human life. An infectious and informative scientific exploration, The Invisible Kingdom will change the way you see the world around you.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Microorganisms have been around for 3-4 billion years, but humans first sighted them less than four hundred years ago. Unless since the invention of the microscope have we gained knowledge about all the teeming microscopic critters that inhabit us and the world around us. Idan Ben-Bark's The Invisible Kingdom unlocks the secrets of the genes, proteins, bacteria, and viruses that shape and threaten our existence. This lively intellectual encounter immerses us in discussions of radioactive waste, insect sex change, infectious diseases, antibiotics, and bovine digestion. It keeps you guessing; it keeps you thinking.
Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Ben-Barak (Small Wonders) writes with verve, enthusiasm and humor about critters that most people find frightening, repugnant, and worthy of mass slaughter via antibiotic hand sanitizer; in this illuminating book, Ben-Barak assures us that without them, "we'll all be dead within days, if not hours." Sure, they cause horrible diseases and turn food rotten, but microbes also clean up waste (including radioactive contamination, chemicals and plastics) and play an important role in digestion (humans have ten times more microbials than human cells). Flexing degrees in both microbiology and medical science, Australian-based scientist Ben-Barak covers a lot of territory, beginning with the origins of single-celled life, 3.8 billion years ago. Connecting the mechanisms of asexual reproduction used by single-celled bacteria to human sexual reproduction, he explains lucidly the mechanics of DNA and RNA, as well as the rapid mutation rate of new strains of germs, diseases and genuinely useful microbes used for thousands of years to make bread, beer, wine and yogurt, and more recently in the manufacturing of hormones. Wonderfully informative and entertaining, Ben-Barak's latest is a brilliant read for both general readers and science buffs.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465018871
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 8/4/2009
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Idan Ben-Barak holds degrees in medical science and microbiology from the Hadassah School of Medicine at the University of Jerusalem. His writing has been featured in New Scientist.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2013



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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2011


    If you are interested in the world around you and enjoy a fun book to read with light humor, then this is the book for you. I have a biology degree and work with microbes but I know that this book can be for anyone. The author really personifies microbes in a way that draws you in. Please read this book! You won't regret it.

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