Herding Hemingway's Cats

  • by Kat Arney
  • Narrated by Kat Arney
  • 8 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The language of genes has become common parlance. We know they make your eyes blue, your hair curly, or your nose straight. The media tells us that our genes control the risk of cancer, heart disease, alcoholism, or Alzheimer's. The cost of DNA sequencing has plummeted from billions of dollars to a few hundred, and gene-based advances in medicine hold huge promise.
So we've all heard of genes, but how do they actually work? According to legend, Ernest Hemingway was once given a six-toed cat by an old sea captain, and her distinctive descendants still roam the writer's Florida estate today. Scientists now know that the fault driving this profusion of digits lies in a tiny genetic control switch, miles away (in molecular terms) from the gene that "makes" toes. And it's the same mistake that gives rise to multi-toed humans too. There are 2.2 meters of DNA inside every one of your cells, encoding roughly 20,000 genes. These are the "recipes" that tell our cells how to make the building blocks of life, along with myriad control switches ensuring they're turned on and off at the right time and in the right place. But rather than a static string of genetic code, this is a dynamic, writhing biological library. And figuring out how it all works - how your genes make you, you - is a major challenge for researchers around the world. Drawing on stories ranging from six-toed cats and stickleback hips to wobbly worms and zombie genes, geneticist Kat Arney explores the how our genes work, creating a companion to the book of life itself.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Informative and current

Kat Arney casts herself well as both advocate and party pooper in the quest to open up the world of the cell and the gene. She has the healthy scepticism of the professional real world lab scientist, a world she knowable and acknowledges that she feels most comfortable in. Too frequently we hear newspaper or TV hype around this field in a frenzy of "New DNA breakthrough" or genes-as-saint-or-sinner discourse. Kat makes it very clear that we have a lot to learn and although there is a lot of promise, there is SO much we don't yet understand.
I would openly challenge whether there was actually any need to recount the content of the interviews in accented impressions all the time. At worst it was distracting, and this was content that I didn't want to be distracted from. I could have forgiven,and probably enjoyed, the occasional drift into Floridian or Californian soundtrack to emphasize a quirk or bon mot, since it suits Kat's highly engaging style to bring the interviewees to life. I was finding myself relieved when certain recollections were over and in a work which was a series of interview accounts strung together by editorial, this wasn't the intention I think.
I'd recommend Kat's work to anybody interested in this vital field, along with her wonderful podcasts.
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- Jay Dermott

Excellent, and easy to understand.

Even when I was studying genetics as one my subjects at uni, it was not an easy subject to grasp. This book, blows that out of the water. It is jovial dance upon the subject, putting it in an easy to grasp manner that most people could understand.
If you only ever buy one book on genetics, it must be this one. Kat Arneys enthusiasm and passion for the subject, shines through. A great listen.
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- Mr. S. J. Oxley "some bloke"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 14-01-2016
  • Publisher: Audible Studios for Bloomsbury