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290 pages, Hardcover
First published March 1, 2016
Science has taught me that everything is more complicated than we first assume, and that being able to derive happiness from discovery is a recipe for a beautiful life.While it may be a beautiful life in many ways, it has not been an easy one. Anne Hope Jahren is a geobiologist currently working at the University of Oslo. This represents a bit of homecoming, as her ancestors emigrated from Norway to Minnesota. Her father was a science teacher at a community college. She writes about having the run of the science facilities at the school, when she was a kid, while with her dad, and loving it. Science was clearly in her blood from an early age. Jahren is a much awarded researcher who studies biological bits from ancient plants to determine climatic conditions of their time. Incorporating biology into geology is what has set her work apart. She won the Donath Medal from the Geological Society of America and the American Geophysical Union’s Macelwane Award. (Yeah, I never heard of them either, but they are a pretty big deal. Winning both is an even bigger deal, as only four people have ever done that and Jahren is the only woman so honored.)
You may think a mushroom is a fungus. This is exactly like believing that a penis is a man. [insert mandatory joke here….although sometimes a man can be a dick…ok?] Every toadstool, from the deliciously edible to the deathly poisonous, is merely a sex organ that is attached to something more whole, complex, and hidden. [I leave the joke construction for you to complete here, something like usually not] Underneath every mushroom is a web of stringy hyphae that may extend for kilometers, [if you are now thinking about large swaths of unwashed dishes and undone laundry, I apologize] wrapping around countless clumps of soil and holding the landscape together. The ephemeral mushroom appears briefly above the surface while the webbing that anchors it lives for years within a darker and richer world. [World of Warcraft?]There are plenty more, all short, and all very interesting. I loved these, although not all lend themselves so compellingly to snarkiness.