The Hale [telescope] is a refinery for light.
Dragonflies kill their prey in the air and eat it on the wing. They feed on aerial plankton, which consists of any sort of small living thing that happens to be aloft - mosquitoes, midges, moths, flies, ballooning spiders.
Redwood time moves at a more stately pace than human time. To us, when we look at a redwood tree, it seems to be motionless and still, and yet redwoods are constantly in motion, moving upward into space, articulating themselves and filling redwood space over redwood time, over thousands of years.
It turns out, from what I hear, that roasted fruit bats are delicious.
Experiments suggest that if one particle of Ebola enters a person's bloodstream, it can cause a fatal infection. This may explain why many of the medical workers who came down with Ebola couldn't remember making any mistakes that might have exposed them.
The crown of a supertall redwood has a towering, cloudy, irregular form, and the crowns of the tallest redwoods can sometimes look like the plume of exhaust from a rocket taking off.
I had actually finished the manuscript of 'The Wild Trees' and turned it in to Random House when all of a sudden word came. Michael Taylor and his colleague, Chris Atkins, another explorer, have just knocked one out of the park. They found the world's tallest tree. The tree is named Hyperion, 379.1 feet tall.
The dragonfly is an exceptionally beautiful insect and a fierce carnivore. It has four wings that beat independently. This gives it an ability to maneuver in the air with superb dexterity. A dragonfly can put on a burst of speed, stop on a dime, hover, fly backward, and switch direction in a flash. This is a hunting behavior known as hawking.
Global climate change has become entangled with the problem of invasive species. A warmer climate could allow some invaders to spread farther, while causing native organisms to go extinct in their traditional habitats and making room for invaders.
The earth's biosphere could be thought of as a sort of palace. The continents are rooms in the palace; islands are smaller rooms. Each room has its own decor and unique inhabitants; many of the rooms have been sealed off for millions of years. The doors in the palace have been flung open, and the walls are coming down.
Seeing outward is equivalent to looking backward in time because the telescope's mirror is capturing primeval light... galaxies that existed before our time.
When a parasite moves to a new habitat, it can find new hosts through a process called the trans-species jump. Often, the new host has no resistance; it and the parasite haven't had time to adjust to each other through natural selection (it is frequently not in the best interest of a parasite to kill its host quickly).
If a healthy person were placed on the other side of a room from a person who was sick with AIDS, the AIDS virus would not be able to drift across the room through the air and infect the healthy person.
Life on the planet is being homogenized by the expanding human population and the frequent and rapid movement of people and goods, which carry invasive organisms with them. These invasives often flourish in their new ecosystems because, like the woolly adelgid, they have escaped their predators.
Here's what's terrifying about Ebola. Ebola is invisible. It's a monster without a face. With the science that we have now, we can perceive Ebola as being not one thing but as a swarm, and the swarm is moving through the human population and expanding its numbers. It has the qualities of a monster.
I don't believe in a biological apocalypse, but I think there is stormy biological weather ahead as the human population continues to grow.
Fox bought the rights to the book way back when, and there was this attempt by Fox to make a movie out of 'The Hot Zone,' and it tended tragically in a Hollywood disaster involving Robert Redford and Jodie Foster and Ridley Scott. But the rights have been sitting at Fox ever since.
In the course of writing 'First Light,' I climbed all over and through the Hale Telescope, where I found rooms, stairways, tunnels, and abandoned machines leaking oil. My notebooks show tooth-marks where I gripped them with my teeth while climbing around inside the telescope, and the notebooks are stained with Flying Horse telescope oil.
As life forms, viruses are just inherently interesting. It's the microworld - this universe of life too small for us to see - but it's profoundly complicated, and immensely powerful. Ebola is like a beautiful and frightening predator. There is a wonder in the operations of nature that can't be denied, even when we're the losers.
The problem with Ebola is that it makes mistakes while it copies itself. The mistakes are actually good for Ebola because they help Ebola change, and as a result of this, as it jumps from one human body to the next, roughly half the time, it's got a mutation.