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All Quotes by author - Sam Kean
" A long iron rod rocketed straight through the very forefront of Phineas Gage's brain. It's kind of an unusual part of the brain: you can suffer pretty severe injuries to it and often walk away from the injury. It's not a part of the brain that's necessarily vital for your biological self. But it is very important for personality. "
" Brain surgery couldn't happen without the patient's own active voice to guide the work. The patient is part of the surgical team here, perhaps the most important part, and above all, that's what makes neurosurgery different. "
" Cancer is really a DNA disease... We have these certain genes that prevent our cells from growing out of control at the expense of the body. And it's a pretty good, robust system. But if a couple of these genes fail, then that's when cancer starts, and cells start growing out of control. "
" Despite the disreputable company it keeps, bismuth is harmless. In fact, it's medicinal: Doctors prescribe it to soothe ulcers, and it's the 'bis' in hot-pink Pepto-Bismol. Overall, it seems like the most out-of-place element on the periodic table, a gentleman among scoundrels. "
" Despite what you might guess, when monitoring your breathing, your body doesn't care whether you're inhaling enough oxygen. It cares only whether you're expelling enough carbon dioxide - that's the gas that sets off the panic button when you're suffocating. "
" DNA is a 'thing' - a chemical that sticks to your fingers. "
" Every glass thermometer has subtle variations in the size and shape of the bulb at the bottom and the capillary tube inside, as well as variations in the width of gradations on the side. The compounded effect of these uncertainties is that each thermometer reads temperature slightly differently. "
" Genes are like the story, and DNA is the language that the story is written in. "
" Genes work with probabilities; they don't work with certainties. So most things that you're looking at with these genetic tests, it's not like you're condemned to automatically get the disease or the syndrome. There's a lot of factors in play there. "
" Guinea pigs are practically synonymous with experiments. Lab rats have become the workhorses of modern medicine. Genetics owes a huge debt to the humble fruit fly. There's almost no branch of the life sciences, in fact, that hasn't leaned heavily on one animal or another. "
" If studying the periodic table taught me nothing else, it's that the credulity of human beings for periodic table panaceas is pretty much boundless. "
" If you had to sum up chemistry in one sentence, it might be this: Atoms need to have full shells of electrons to feel satisfied, and different elements steal, shed, or borrow different numbers of electrons to achieve a full shell. "
" I'm kind of a sucker for the retro-diagnoses. "
" I think it's a natural human tendency, when you read something, you tend to read a lot of your prejudices into it. And neuroscience is like a lot of disciplines - it has fashions; things change. "
" Medieval alchemists, despite their lust for gold, considered mercury the most potent and poetic substance in the universe. As a child, I would have agreed with them. "
" On a submicro scale, pure diamond is billions of billions of carbon atoms bonded to one another. If you shrunk yourself down and stood inside the diamond, you'd see nothing but carbon in a perfect pattern in every direction. "
" Scientists have continued to tinker with different elements and have learned new ways to store and deliver energy. "
" The body tends to treat elements in the same column of the periodic table as equivalents. "
" The idea of critical windows extends beyond just vision, of course: almost every system in the brain has a critical window when it needs to experience certain stimuli, or it won't get wired up properly. The most obvious example is language: if you don't learn a language early on, it's nigh impossible to become truly fluent. "
" The more that I looked at DNA, the more I realized it was nature and nurture. It's how genes and your environment work together to produce the person you are. "
" The noble gases, which reside on the East Coast of the periodic table, are its aristocrats - detached and aloof, never bothering to interact with the rabble of common elements that make up the vast majority of the world. "
" The price of diamonds can vary greatly depending on size, cut, color, and other factors, including whether they have a history. But because of the rarity of blue boron diamonds, they often fetch more money than gems of similar quality. "
" Those of us raised in modern cities tend to notice horizontal and vertical lines more quickly than lines at other orientations. In contrast, people raised in nomadic tribes do a better job noticing lines skewed at intermediate angles, since Mother Nature tends to work with a wider array of lines than most architects. "
" Unlike uranium, plutonium was created in an American lab in 1940, but scientists soon realized that it could produce even wilder chain reactions and even bigger explosions. In fact, fearing another country would create it, too, the American government went to great lengths to keep even the existence of plutonium a secret. "
" We human beings are humane in part because we can look beyond our biology. "
" We know that genes shape human cultures and human societies: The DNA we inherited from our ancestors makes certain foods taste better, affects the way we care for children, influences what colors we find vibrant, and contributes to our love of socializing, among other examples. "
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