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David Quammen on SciAm/Read Science! Chat

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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David Quammen, according to his website is  ”an author and journalist whose twelve books include The Song of the DodoThe Reluctant Mr. Darwin, and most recently Spillover, a work on the science, history, and human impacts of emerging diseases (especially viral diseases).”  I would hope you have read some of his works in any of the many places he has published. According to the New York Times, Quammen is “not just among our best science writers but among our best writers, period.” Reading some of his works, I can’t help but agree.

He has recently worked with The Weather Channel to produce several short videos based on his latest book, Spillover, called The Virus Hunters. Each segment runs about 5-6 minutes and features an engaging vignette from the book centered around several of the diseases including AIDS, Hantavirus, Rabies, Ebola, Marburg and Hendra viruses.

We are very fortunate to have David as our guest on Tuesday, May 6 at noon EDT in our next episode of Read Science! We will be picking up where the video series and his book has left off in our never-ending battle against ever evolving viruses that jump from host species to humans.

You will be able to watch the Google Hangout on Air at the event page, on SciAm’s youtube page or right here! You will also be able to post questions you may have about emerging viral diseases and have them answered by David himself if you join us at the SciAm Google event page. We hope you will join us!



Joanne Manaster About the Author: Joanne Manaster is a university level cell and molecular biology lecturer with an insatiable passion for science outreach to all ages. Enjoy her quirky videos at, on twitter @sciencegoddess and on her Facebook page at JoanneLovesScience Follow on Twitter @sciencegoddess.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. SJCrum 4:40 pm 05/5/2014

    Concerning the book about the Dodo, this is actually fun even though it was a bit odd as to how I finally found out about the real science of the little varmint’s extinction. yeah, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet, as far as the reality of this.
    Anyway, I was writing on a web location that was describing extinct species, and I was told by an angel-like female, who is truly an expert on about anything anyone could ever imagine, that there were only three species that actually became extinct, and the Dodo wasn’t even one of them. So, I said something like, “What about the Dodo?” Duh-uh to me, that was totally despicable as far as being anywhere close to being funny. And, by the way, the following is not for the purpose of being funny, but to actually address the real science about Dodos.
    So, she said that they were just a large version of another species that did live on earth ever since the beginning, and even until now.
    The science, by the way, is that God made several species in larger sizes in order to test the very small organs and other things, like birds. So, in the early years of life on earth, there were some of these larger versions.
    So, even though I thought that she was joking and just having fun with me, I actually said after her response, “Yeeeeaaah, riiight.” And, it took me a bit of time to actually think she was right instead of clueless.
    So, duh-uh to me again. Her truly ornery-at-times-not-quite-despicable-self was obviously right when she said Dodos were just larger versions of parakeets. The beak is exactly the same as that of a parakeet, and the longer part of the Dodo beak that is closer to the head is actually not seen because it is inside the head.
    Anyway, the famous, totally extinct Dodo wasn’t actually one of the ones lost in the distant past at all.
    So, as for the song of a Dodo, it goes something like “chirp, chirp.” (hee, hee) And, you think I am kidding. Nope, not at all. The little varmints were all around us all along.

    Link to this
  2. 2. SJCrum 5:09 pm 05/5/2014

    Concerning the humongous virus that will tromp down through the streets of Chicago and scarf it down in the next few seconds left of life there, just so no one gets too overly worried over this, the following science should be a comfort.
    When God made every living thing in Creation, for every single positive new life form type, a totally anti-negative type came into existence also. And, virus were one of the totally killing types of anti-types. the main point is that all of the now known virus, are not new at all, but just the same ones that occurred way in the past in the years approximately of 4600 B.C. The first humans, Adam and Eve, were transported to earth is 4500 B.C., and there were some animals that came previously to that.
    In a nut shell, God hasn’t made any other animals, so there haven’t been any new anti-types coming into existence either.
    As for virus, they were the exact opposite of something very wonderful, as occurs with every other anti-types on earth as well. Vipers and rattlesnakes were all killer anti-types like this also. And, there are positive opposites for each of those also.
    Virus are smaller, and their opposite is (the female is taking her sweet time with this, and, as for me, I don’t have the foggiest idea at all.) The virus opposite is … (don’t you dare say chipmunk.)(she says “no”.) She is being a bit ornery since I think I wrote something a bit ornery about her previously. Oh well, it probably isn’t important about the opposite anyway, and more important about the basic science.
    So, hopefully, the information here will prevent any huge worries, and that is a truly good thing.
    As for Ebola, it is in my understanding completely made up, a type of false thing used in cold war type of activity. And no, I didn’t know that before, but I am not surprised either. By the way, it is EASY to prove that the supposed landing on the moon was totally faked as well. Since they were competing with the Soviets to get into space, it was easier to just fake it, and then, … tada!,… win. So, no, an Ebola is NOT going to eat Chicago next week, or any other after that.

    Link to this
  3. 3. SJCrum 5:23 pm 05/5/2014

    By the way, craters on the moon, and Mars also, are not from asteroid impacts or anything like that. Impacts, which the moon actually has one, has very little hole at all, and has streaked lines shooting out from it that came from outward blasting debris.
    The real craters that have deeper, concave holes were made by the entire surface of the moon and Mars being a liquid ocean of melted soil and then gas from under the surface escaping upward through the magma-like liquid and that then making bubbles.
    During the enormous heat event that killed dinosaurs on earth at about 2500 B.C., lasted 40 days, and during that time the bubbles bubbled up and popped when at their maximum height. When the heat finally ended, there were craters on mars, for example, that had ragged edges around the holes, and each layer was from a single popping bubble. So, there are several of these on Mars. Another item is that when the top of a bubble in the end of the heat was still in place, the rapidly cold shrinking of that top layer caused it to shrink to squares which then fell downward into the crater bottoms. And, Mars has a few of these also.
    As for the moon landing, the single crater near the landing vehicle was nothing but a shallow hole that was very smooth at the edges and wasn’t even close to what real “craters” were like on Mars at all.

    Link to this
  4. 4. SJCrum 6:44 pm 05/5/2014

    As for the science of opposites, the positive opposites of anti-type, virus are a positive, very small living thing that can only be seen under a microscope. And, they live outside the human body, or any animal type also. The question I was asked is, did I ever hear of corpuscles? And, not the type that is inside human bodies. So, that wasn’t as great as I had wanted, but it is the answer.
    As for rattlesnakes, the opposites of those are likely larger. So, that opposite is, I am told, a rabbit. For what it’s worth, the souls are the actual opposites, but that doesn’t describe why snake bodies were made. And the answer about snake bodies was that worm-like bodies were needed to fertilize soil. As for snake bodies they were intended to be killed during the disaster that killed the dinosaurs, but several types survived it. So, the killing anti-souls in the snakes came from this. A science item is that rabbit souls are the same size as those in snakes. Just like the smaller sizes exist in virus and the positives of those also.
    A shark has its opposite then in dolphins.
    So, basically, this gives some information about the opposite soul types that exist, even though the anti-types are not referred to a souls. They are, instead, total killers and destroyers.

    Link to this

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