I contain multitudes

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The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life

Hi, welcome to Bookey. Today we are going to unlock the book “I contain multitudes”. This book is about the impact of microbes on living organisms on earth, and the partnerships between humans and microbes.

When we talk about microbes, people usually think of pathogens, such as bacteria, as well as viruses that cause illnesses, such as Tuberculosis, Leprosy, Plague, and Variola. In magazines and popular media, we often read that stuff we use everyday, such as mobile phones, door knobs, and keyboards, are covered with more bacteria than that found on a toilet seat. These bacteria are said to contaminate our living environments, while also threatening human health. As such, people associate microbes with pathogens, and thus want them to be eliminated at any cost. At first thought, for many, it seems as if the existence of microbes can only means disease, dirt and filth.

However, judging microbes in such a way is, in fact, unfunded. Among all types of microbes, including bacteria, virus, fungi, microalgae and other microscopic biological groups, there are actually fewer than 100 strains of bacteria that can infect humans. A large part of the microbe family are not pathogens, and cannot make us sick. On the contrary, they play a vital role in preserving our lives.

The existence of microbes is vitally intertwined with our own lives. They can be found everywhere in nature, on animal bodies and on human bodies. They are indispensable. Microbes fertilize the earth, degrade pollutants, and produce oxygen for us to breathe. They can also shape human organs, modulate the immune system and help us digest foods. If all microbes disappeared from earth, there would indeed be no infectious diseases, and many insects would die out; however it would also be a disaster. Herbivores such as cattle and sheep would die of starvation, crops would diminish, garbage would accumulate, food chains would be disrupted, human society would perish and most creatures on earth would become extinct.

It is thus time for us to change our perception of microbes. This book will help us understand the important roles that microbes play for all life forms on earth, and the partnership and conflict between humans and microbes. It’ll also explain how our bodies regulate microbes to serve us. So sit back and relax, and let this book change your view of the world through a new understanding of microbes.

The author of this book, Ed Yong, is the science reporter for “The Atlantic”. His work is usually published in popular science magazines, such as “National geographic of America”, “New scientists” and “Scientific American”. In 2016, Ed Yong won the Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Award for his prominent contribution in biomedical reporting and Byron H. Waksman Award for excellence in public communication of life sciences. “I contain multitudes” was nominated as one of the New York Times 100 notable books in 2016.

Today’s Bookey will guide us through a journey to better understand microbes through the following 3 parts:

Part 1, The symbiotic relationship between microbes and living organisms

Part 2, The roles microbes play in human health

Part 3, Research and application of microbes in the treatment of diseases

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