THE BOOKS

Two books. One non-fiction, the other fiction. One deals with the scientific facts that almost seem to far-fetched to be true, while the other is a hard science fiction novel that is uncomfortably close to reality.

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Modern Poisons: A brief introduction to contemporary toxicology.

ISBN-978-1610913829

Traditional toxicology textbooks tend to be doorstops: tomes filled with important but seemingly abstract chemistry and biology. Meanwhile, magazine and journal articles introduce students to timely topics such as BPA and endocrine disruption or the carcinogenic effects of pesticides, but don’t provide the fundamentals needed to understand the science of toxicity. Written by a longtime professor of toxicology, Modern Poisons bridges this gap.

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Twist

ISBN-978-1643071640

When Iowa State University environmental science professor Alex Pendergraf reads about a horrific mass murder in Stockton, California, his scientific curiosity is piqued. Could the killer's rage be somehow related to Alex's research on prions, the misformed proteins that cause Mad Cow Disease? As Alex digs into the toxicological mystery, he discovers a new infectious agent dubbed "the Stockton Prion" that causes mood swings, bouts of aggression, and unspeakable violence. And what's more: it's spreading. With the clock running out, it's up to Alex and his colleagues to curtail the violence threatening to spread across Stockton. But with the prion infecting Alex himself, it might already be too late.