Quotes by: Sam Kean

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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.
Sam Kean
Geneticists in the early 1900s believed that nature - in an effort to avoid wasting precious space within chromosomes - would pack as many genes into each chromosome as possible.
Sam Kean
The density of space junk peaks around 620 miles up, in the middle of so-called low-Earth orbit. That's bad, because many weather, scientific, and reconnaissance satellites circle in various low-Earth orbits.
Sam Kean
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.
Sam Kean
In some sense, what you might have suspected from the first day of high-school chemistry is true: The periodic table is a colossal waste of time. Nine out of every 10 atoms in the universe are hydrogen, the first element and the major constituent of stars. The other 10 percent of all atoms are helium.
Sam Kean
Boron is carbon's neighbor on the periodic table, which means it can do a passable carbon impression and wriggle its way into the matrix of a diamond. But it has one fewer electron, so it can't quite form the same four perfect bonds.
Sam Kean
Most people, even most doctors, learn that the placenta is a nice, tight seal that prevents anything in the mother's body from invading the fetus, and vice-versa. That's mostly true. But the placenta doesn't seal off the baby perfectly, and every so often, something slips across.
Sam Kean
X-rays revealed that some people were born without a corpus callosum, and they seemed just fine.
Sam Kean
Even if we never cure a single disease, the Human Genome Project and other ventures will have been worth it.
Sam Kean
One theme I ran into over and over while writing about the periodic table was the future of energy and the question of which element or elements will replace carbon as king.
Sam Kean
The inability to trace DNA to actual diseases has serious consequences. As does the opposite problem - not being able to trace diseases back to DNA.
Sam Kean
Genes are like the story, and DNA is the language that the story is written in.
Sam Kean
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.
Sam Kean
Mutations can arise anywhere in the genome, in gene DNA and noncoding DNA alike. But mutations to genes have bigger consequences: They can disable proteins and kill a creature.
Sam Kean
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.
Sam Kean
Microchimeric sharing means that, even if the mother loses a child, she'll have a small memento of him or her secreted away inside her. Similarly, a bit of our mothers live on in all of us no matter how long ago Mom died.
Sam Kean
Before the Human Genome Project, most scientists assumed, based on our complex brains and behaviors, that humans must have around 100,000 genes; some estimates went as high as 150,000.
Sam Kean
Over the years, humans have managed to incorporate nearly every element, light and weighty, common and obscure, into our daily lives. And given how small atoms are and how many of them there are all around us, it's almost certain that your body has at least brushed against an atom of every single natural element on the periodic table.
Sam Kean
Brains, you see, vary a lot from person to person - they vary as much as faces do.
Sam Kean
The mutated Marfan gene creates a defective version of fibrillin, a protein that provides structural support for soft tissues like blood vessels. Marfan victims often die young, in fact, after their aortas grow threadbare and rupture.
Sam Kean
Most people who have encountered mercury have done so after breaking a mercury thermometer. And many of us who saw the liquid balls of mercury scatter across a floor or countertop considered the element the most beautiful on the periodic table.
Sam Kean
The hippocampus helps record both types of memories initially, and it helps retain them for the medium term. The hippocampus also helps us access old personal memories in long-term storage in other parts of the brain.
Sam Kean
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