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A Planet of Viruses

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There are more viruses on Earth than stars in the universe. If you stacked every virus end to end, they would stretch 100,000 light years.

Listen to Carl talk about A Planet of Viruses on National Public Radio's Science Friday

About the Book:

“In A Planet of Viruses, science writer Carl Zimmer accomplishes in a mere 100 pages what other authors struggle to do in 500: He reshapes our understanding of the hidden realities at the core of everyday existence.”
The Washington Post

Viruses are the smallest living things known to science, and yet they hold the entire planet in their sway. We’re most familiar with the viruses that give us colds or the flu, but viruses also cause a vast range of other diseases, including one disorder that makes people sprout branch-like growths as if they were trees. Viruses have been a part of our lives for so long, in fact, that we are actually part virus: the human genome contains more DNA from viruses than our own genes. Meanwhile, scientists are discovering viruses everywhere they look: in the soil, in the ocean, even in deep caves miles underground.

A Planet of Viruses pulls back the veil on this hidden world. It presents the latest research on how viruses hold sway over our lives and our biosphere, how viruses helped give rise to the first life-forms, how viruses are producing new diseases, how we can harness viruses for our own ends, and how viruses will continue to control our fate for years to come.

For the second edition of A Planet of Viruses, Zimmer has added sections on Ebola, MERS, and other viruses that have made headlines in recent years, making the book more valuable than ever for understanding our viral world.