I’m delighted to relay the news that the paperback edition of Life’s Edge is coming out next week. If you’re curious about the book, you can read this review from Siddhartha Mukherjee in the the New York Times Book ReviewHere’s an interview I did with Book Review editor Pamela Paul on their podcast. And, finally, here’s a video of a lecture I gave to the Royal Institution, drawing on the book: “Are Viruses Alive?” Continue reading “Friday’s Elk, March 4, 2022”

After nearly two years of writing about Covid-19, I finally became part of the story.

When the virus known as SARS-CoV-2 arrived in the United States in early 2020, I fretted that it would find me and my family. After a year of hunkering down, vaccines let me relax a bit. By the summer of 2021, it became clear that the Delta variant could sometimes sneak past the vaccine’s defenses, but a booster combined with masks and antigen tests gave me more confidence. Then Omicron came out of nowhere and slammed the United States with absolutely eye-popping numbers.

Yale, where I teach, offers PCR tests as part of their plan to keep their campus open. I took advantage of the opportunity to get tested once a week, regardless of my symptoms. (We would be collectively better off if we all could use such a service.) Some weeks I felt quite fine, and some weeks I felt a little run down or congested. But regardless of how I felt, I tested negative–until January 19. Continue reading “Friday’s Elk, February 4, 2022”

Normally I send out this newsletter on the first Friday of each month. Before writing this edition, I went back to look at my November newsletter to refresh my memory, only to discover that I never got around to sending one out. My apologies!

In hindsight, I’m not that surprised that I blanked. On the first Friday of November, I was in Charleston to speak at their book festival. To get there, I took my first plane in almost two years. And when I spoke in front of a wonderful crowd at the splendid Sottile Theater, it was my first live audience in almost two years as well. Those experiences, plus a lot of shrimp and grits, made it a heavenly journey. Continue reading “Friday’s Elk, December 3, 2021”

Since my last newsletter in August, it feels as if we’ve entered bizarre new equilibrium. In the United States, roughly two thousand people a day are dying of Covid-19, a rate about as high as the first peak in spring 2020. Unlike back then, this new round of devastation is unfolding in a country where 65 percent of eligible people are vaccinated. If you had told me a year ago that this is how things would stand in September 2021, I don’t think I’d have believed you.

Despite these terrible circumstances, I have been traveling, something I have not done for ages. My family has hit the road to see relatives and friends. Although we’re all vaccinated, we still take precautions such as masking in indoor public spaces and taking rapid antigen tests before spending a lot of unmasked time indoors with other people. My wife and I dropped off our kids at college, where they are having a semi-normal school year, a thankful change from endless Zooming. Continue reading “Friday’s Elk, October 1, 2021”