The Epigenetics Revolution by Nessa Carey. Pop science book about the science of epigenetics: how bodies affect their genes to behave differently and express different proteins.
Content is definitely fascinating. The science explains phenomena like how multiple generations can be affected by lack of food in pregnancy, why mice stressed in childhood are nervous throughout their lives, why clones suffer poor health but their descendents are OK.
The science is explained in detail. Basically proteins called histones and methyl groups stick to the DNA in cells, and control what proteins are expressed subsequently. These do all kinds of things: specialise cells into various kinds, transmit information from early stages of development later, control the expression of sexual characteristics. During conception and the earliest stages of pregnancy the methylation and histones are removed, returning the DNA to its flexible original state. Clones have problems because this reset hasn't fully happened.
It's a pop science book, but even so gets fairly technical, with some sentences crammed full of jargon. The author typically follows the heaviest bits with a folksy analogy which sort-of-almost explains it. It's serviceable science writing but not Stephen Jay Gould.
Overall though, for the content, worth reading.
What I'm Reading
Sweet Dreams by Tricia Sullivan. Near future science fiction about a young woman living in London who works as a "Dreamhacker", steering people's dreams, but encounters others using the technology for sinister purposes.
Has some good touches, liked the plausible worldbuilding of an augmented reality future, and the colourful supporting characters. The protagonist is appealing but also a little annoying in her helplessness. The plot is frenetic in its detail but without much actual advancing of events: I loved the book at the start but found it increasing hard to pick up.
Overall, not bad if you can take something like Bridget-Jones-Meets-Inception, but not unmissable.
Feeling pretty stressed and run down. The work trip sucked up a lot of my energy and left me with a backlog of stuff to do. I agreed to go abroad for Xmas which is another load of stress and organisation. I thought I could just order the presents and things on amazon.de and get them sent there, but that won't work and now we'll have to carry anything we want. My mother has her first Christmas without my Dad, my brother and sister will be there but it's going to be strange without him. Have this huge amount of stuff to do for Christmas and otherwise, and more work just seems to be piled on me faster than I can do it.
Socioeconomics. Portugal's drug policy is working.
Random. La Marseillaise scene in Casablanca.
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