The Violinist's Thumb Sam Kean is the best science teacher you never had. Following up his accessible history of the periodic table, he switches out chemistry's fundamental building… The Violinist's Thumb Sam Kean is the best science teacher you never had. Following up his accessible history of the periodic table, he switches out chemistry's fundamental building… 2012-07-17 Nonfiction Little Brown & Company
Book Review

The Violinist's Thumb (2012)

BIO 101 Kean employs intriguing anecdotes to explain biology, making the genetic code palatable for laypeople
BIO 101 Kean employs intriguing anecdotes to explain biology, making the genetic code palatable for laypeople
EW's GRADE
A-

Details Release Date: Jul 17, 2012; Writer: Sam Kean; Genre: Nonfiction; Publisher: Little Brown & Company

Sam Kean is the best science teacher you never had. Following up his accessible history of the periodic table, he switches out chemistry's fundamental building blocks for biology's, tackling the genetic code in The Violinist's Thumb. The titular digit belongs to Niccolò Paganini, whose musical virtuosity was likely due to a hereditary mutation, and in general the book focuses on people rather than formulas. Paganini's story joins a slew of other intriguing tales, which Kean spins in light, witty prose while also placing them in a broader scientific context. Given the confused, headachy feeling we've had thanks to the recent Higgs boson discovery, we can only hope the next topic he decodes will be physics. A-

Originally posted Jul 18, 2012 Published in issue #1217 Jul 27, 2012 Order article reprints
Advertisement

Today's Most Popular

  1. Photo Gallery: American Music Awards 2014 American Music Awards 2014 style: What the stars wore

From Our Partners