Richard Preston is best known for his bestselling novel, The Hot Zone, in which he introduced the Ebola virus to a mainstream audience. His latest work, Panic in Level 4, is a collection of non-fiction, science-related stories.
Preston opens with an introduction detailing his experience in a Level 4 laboratory, Level 4 being the highest level of bio-security. He then introduces us to the Chudnovsky brothers, who built a supercomputer in their New York apartment to continue their quest for pi (π)- they’ve calculated it to over 2 million places! The brothers appear again in a story about the famous artworks, the Unicorn Tapestries. Preston’s interest in the tapestries lies in the difficulties encountered during digital imaging, performed to capture and record the colours and mirror images found perfectly preserved on the reverse of the tapestries. The Chudnovsky brothers’ mathematical minds are required to reassemble the tiny bits of the images. Read more »