Panic in Level 4

Panic in Level 4

Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science

Book - 2009
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Panic in Level 4 is a grand tour through the eerie and unforgettable universe of Richard Preston, filled with incredible characters and mysteries that refuse to leave one's mind. Here are dramatic true stories from this acclaimed and award-winning author, including

* the phenomenon of "self-cannibals," who suffer from a rare genetic condition caused by one wrong letter in their DNA that forces them to compulsively chew their own flesh-and why everyone may have a touch of this disease
* the search for the unknown host of Ebola virus, an organism hidden somewhere in African rain forests, where the disease finds its way into the human species, causing outbreaks of unparalleled horror
* the brilliant Russian brothers-"one mathematician divided between two bodies"-who built a supercomputer in their apartment from mail-order parts in an attempt to find hidden order in the number pi (π)

In exhilarating detail, Preston portrays the frightening forces and constructive discoveries that are currently roiling and reordering our world, once again proving himself a master of the nonfiction narrative.
Publisher: New York : Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2009
Edition: Random House Trade paperback edition
ISBN: 9780812975604
Branch Call Number: 616.024 Pr
Description: xxxiv, 194 pages : illustrations, portraits, facsimiles ; 21 cm


From Library Staff

Well-written essays of strange and edgy science, including self-cannibalization.

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May 30, 2017

Those of you who have read any of Preston's other books, most notably "The Hot Zone" will already know that Preston's "non-fiction" often reads like the best of some author's fiction. You find yourself pinching yourself: "surely this can't be for real?"
Panic in Level 4 starts with a visit to a Level 4 containment lab. Preston gets it down to the details: the "space suit"; the sound of the zipper opening and closing; the palpable fear when the suit punctures.
And then there the Russian emigre brothers who build their own super computer from mail order parts in their apartment. All this to calculate the Value of Pi to over a billion decimal places. It's so big it heats their whole apartment. And again, the novelist in Pearson describes the brothers in excruciating detail down the the very socks they wear.
Panic in Level 4 delves into science as opposed to science fiction, in a most gripping, thrilling, manner.
Preston definitely makes the case that fact is stranger than fiction.

kmcinto Jul 26, 2013

Very, very good book to read! You tell the author really does his homework & tries to give his readers a descriptive environment with the people he meets. even the introduction was particularly interesting with the actual title of the book.
However this book is broken up into 6 different categories: intro of the level 4 unknown virus, two brothers building a supercomputer, trees in America that are under the threat of foreign parasites, the Ebola virus, the discussion of a unicorn quilt made back in the 1500s, & the self cannibalism genetic disease. So there's a little bit of something for everyone's interest.

He tries to spice the stories up with humor and really is informative with each one. I didn't think I was going to enjoy the tree one in particular, but it did grab my attention unlike the the story about the 2 brothers building a supercomputer. I am not interested what so ever into mathematics or computers, but that's okay. It doesn't ruin my enjoyment of reading the other tales he has researched.

Jan 04, 2012

Very interesting read, Panic in Level 4 manages to be funny, serious, and informative all at the same time. A very interesting read if you have the time or the interest in more obscure medical mysteries, though it does delve into the world of computers. I particularly liked the story about the two brothers who built a super computer out of mail order parts in an apartment in new york.

Aug 19, 2008

An entertaining, highly readable collection of essays on varied science topics. Slanted towards biology, with stories on genetics, disease, and invasive species, but also touches on mathematics and computers.


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