3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Perseverance, cooperation and serendipity,
This review is from: The Spark of Life: Electricity in the Human Body (Hardcover)
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What makes this book so fascinating is that the author is herself involved at the leading edge of research, and has personal knowledge of the science as well as knowing many of the others working in the same field. As she explains early on, much of the information in the book has been discovered very recently; I studied elementary cytology and biochemistry/electrochemistry in the early seventies, and the advances since then are astonishing - I'm also rather glad that I recently updated my knowledge of anatomy. I heard the author talking on the radio shortly after I acquired the book, and she said that she may have assumed more basic knowledge than many readers will possess, and it's true that some may find some of the book hard going, especially without basic knowledge of the various sciences; in this regard, one of the few weaknesses of the book is the relative paucity of diagrams, and the ones which we have are such as may confuse rather than inform. Fortunately, the text is lightened by diverting episodes on a wide range of subjects, from fainting goats and electric eels to poison arrow frogs and vampire bats as the role of electricity is examined. We also have an insider's look at the history of experiment in the field (including the author's own work) and we realise the absolute dedication of the researchers, the time and care expended on their investigations and the not inconsiderable amount of luck involved. Above all, the value of cooperation is demonstrated, and the idea of the world community of science, as so many advances are due to individuals sharing information in order to achieve their goals. This is a very active area of science, and this is an exciting glimpse.