Calisher’s prose in his autobiographical article, “Following the Yellow Brick Road,” is wonderfully clear and playful with a conversational tone. I can’t recommend it highly enough—it’s a delightful article and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
I suppose I can be called a virologist, but viruses are only things, as rocks, automobile tires, and books are things. I have little interest in things that simply sit on shelves or reside in freezers. I like to know where they come from, what they do, what their closest relatives are, and, perhaps, how they arose. The study of viruses, particularly arthropod-borne viruses, requires at least a superficial understanding of their epidemiologies, the assorted peculiarities of the viruses themselves, their geographic distributions, the identity and competence of their vectors, their modes of transmission, the external influences that affect them, and so on. Understanding only one aspect of a particular virus or even a group of viruses does not confer knowledge about viruses as a whole. Recognizing that I will not live forever, early on I decided to choose one branch of virology, arbovirology, the study of viruses that are transmitted between vertebrates by hematophagous arthropods. That’s enough specialization for anyone. Perhaps a bit of my personal history will provide more perspective as to how I got from hither to yon.
Next, I want to highlight the brilliant article “Beekeeping from Antiquity Through the Middle Ages” by Kritsky, which walks us through the earliest art and history of beekeeping practice. Notice that it’s not a complete history, but rather just a small slice of the absolutely fascinating history of our relationship with these creatures:
Robbing wild bees of their honey is the oldest documented interaction with bees. Rock paintings in Spain depict honey hunters suspended from rope ladders as they harvest sections of honeycomb. These paintings are thought to date back 7,000 to 8,000 years, but they are not the oldest evidence of use of bee products. Chemical evidence of beeswax has been detected in Anatolian pottery nearly 9,000 years old.
A few of my coworkers can tell you that I’m not fond of spiders appearing indoors. I don’t mind them out in nature protecting my garden; I just don’t want them dropping on my keyboard from the ceiling unexpectedly. The aspect of spider research I find most fascinating is the deep examination of spider silk and how we can produce it synthetically. I was pleased to find Blamires et al.’s article “Physicochemical Property Variation in Spider Silk: Ecology, Evolution, and Synthetic Production” and greatly anticipate reading it more closely soon. I was especially surprised at all the different types of silks:
Spiders of the large and diverse superfamily Araneoidea produce seven distinct types of silks, each of which is secreted by different silk glands. Major ampullate (MA) silk is used as a safety line by most spiders and as web frame and radii by orb web spiders. It has the most impressive mechanical properties of all spider silks, as it combines high strength with high extensibility…
I’d love to hear what you found interesting in this volume!
Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.