Quotes by Sam Kean (Writer/American).

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There are a few elements - especially platinum and palladium - that have the amazing ability to absorb up to 900 times their own volume in hydrogen gas. To get a sense of the scale there, that's roughly equivalent to a 250-pound man swallowing something the size of a dozen African bull elephants and not gaining an inch on his waistline.
• Sam Kean
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In a vague way, I always knew neurosurgery was different - more delicate, more difficult, more demanding. After all, we say things like, 'I'm no brain surgeon,' for a reason.
• Sam Kean
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Despite what you might guess, when monitoring your breathing, your body doesn't care whether you're inhaling enough oxygen. It cares only whether you're expelling enough carbon dioxide - that's the gas that sets off the panic button when you're suffocating.
• Sam Kean
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Mutations can arise anywhere in the genome, in gene DNA and noncoding DNA alike. But mutations to genes have bigger consequences: They can disable proteins and kill a creature.
• Sam Kean
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The amygdala is indeed crucial for monitoring our environment and deciding what's worth getting worked up over. Once the amygdala determines this, however, it merely trips another circuit to actually produce the panic.
• Sam Kean
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Everywhere in the universe, the periodic table has the same basic structure. Even if an alien civilization's table weren't plotted out in the castle-with-turrets shape we humans favor, their spiral or pyramidal or whatever-shaped periodic table would naturally pause after 118 elements.
• Sam Kean
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Something funny certainly happens when palladium and platinum come into contact with hydrogen gas; it's one of the great mysteries still waiting to be solved on the periodic table. But it's quite a leap from 'something funny' to cold fusion.
• Sam Kean
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Aluminum is the most common metal in the earth's crust, almost twice as abundant as iron. And one common class of aluminum minerals, collectively called alum, has been in use since at least Greek and Roman times.
• Sam Kean
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Most mutations involve typos: Something bumps a cell's elbow as it's copying DNA, and the wrong letter appears in a triplet - CAG becomes CCG.
• Sam Kean
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The body tends to treat elements in the same column of the periodic table as equivalents.
• Sam Kean
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A long iron rod rocketed straight through the very forefront of Phineas Gage's brain. It's kind of an unusual part of the brain: you can suffer pretty severe injuries to it and often walk away from the injury. It's not a part of the brain that's necessarily vital for your biological self. But it is very important for personality.
• Sam Kean
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The grand saga of how humans spread across the globe will need some amendments and annotations - rendezvous here, elopements there, and the commingling of genes most everywhere.
• Sam Kean
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Genes work with probabilities; they don't work with certainties. So most things that you're looking at with these genetic tests, it's not like you're condemned to automatically get the disease or the syndrome. There's a lot of factors in play there.
• Sam Kean
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Most stars just fuse hydrogen into helium, but larger stars can fuse helium into other elements. Still larger stars, in turn, fuse those elements into slightly bigger ones, and so on.
• Sam Kean
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People adored Element 13's color and luster, which reminded them of the sparkle of gold and silver - a brand-new precious metal. In fact, aluminum became more precious than gold and silver in the 19th century because it was harder to obtain.
• Sam Kean
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The hippocampus helps record both types of memories initially, and it helps retain them for the medium term. The hippocampus also helps us access old personal memories in long-term storage in other parts of the brain.
• Sam Kean
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Whereas recessive traits require two bad copies of a gene to become noticeable, a dominant trait expresses itself no matter what the other copy does. A benign example of dominance: If you inherit one gene for sticky wet earwax and one gene for dry earwax, the sticky earwax gene wins out every time.
• Sam Kean
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Most people, even most doctors, learn that the placenta is a nice, tight seal that prevents anything in the mother's body from invading the fetus, and vice-versa. That's mostly true. But the placenta doesn't seal off the baby perfectly, and every so often, something slips across.
• Sam Kean
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Brain surgery couldn't happen without the patient's own active voice to guide the work. The patient is part of the surgical team here, perhaps the most important part, and above all, that's what makes neurosurgery different.
• Sam Kean
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I'm kind of a sucker for the retro-diagnoses.
• Sam Kean
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Genes are like the story, and DNA is the language that the story is written in.
• Sam Kean
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We really should be grateful to the people who participate in research and allow certain details to be published about themselves. Because if they didn't, we wouldn't have nearly the understanding of the brain that we do.
• Sam Kean
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The noble gases, which reside on the East Coast of the periodic table, are its aristocrats - detached and aloof, never bothering to interact with the rabble of common elements that make up the vast majority of the world.
• Sam Kean
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Lithium makes a fine battery because it's a scarily reactive metal. Pure lithium ignites on contact if it touches water - a flake of it would sizzle and fry on the water-rich cells of your skin.
• Sam Kean
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We know that genes shape human cultures and human societies: The DNA we inherited from our ancestors makes certain foods taste better, affects the way we care for children, influences what colors we find vibrant, and contributes to our love of socializing, among other examples.
• Sam Kean

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