"And though the body and form of the book will continue to evolve, its heart and soul never will. Though the telescope might change, the cosmic truths it invites you to peer into remain eternal like the Universe."
"Men’s thoughts have become an important article of commerce. The Dutch publishers make a million [francs] a year, because Frenchmen have brains. A feeble novel is, I know, among books what a fool, always striving after wit, is in the world. We laugh at him and tolerate him. Such a novel brings the means of life to the author who wrote it, the publisher who sells it, to the moulder, the printer, the paper-maker, the binder, the carrier — and finally to the bad wine-shop where they all take their money. Further, the book amuses for an hour or two a few women who like novelty in literature as in everything. Thus, despicable though it may be, it will have produced two important things — profit and pleasure."
"Whoever the mystery people were, they are a reminder that inbreeding was rife in human evolution. After our direct ancestors expanded out of Africa, they interbred with both Neanderthals and Denisovans. And although the ancestors of modern African hunter-gatherers never left the continent, recent studies suggest they did breed with an unidentified hominin species (Cell, doi.org/p5q). That episode appears to have happened around 35,000 years ago, with a species that had split from our lineage 700,000 years ago (PNAS, doi.org/c23)."
"A slightly irrational fear gripped her. It was clearly dead — damaged and missing half its rotors. As a scientist, irrational fears made her angry, so she tamped it down and leaned forward to look at the drone. The core of it looked mostly intact, although none of the rotors at its four corners was still whole. The spike-like metal feet protruded menacingly, sharpened like metal thorns. “We managed to reconstruct this one by cannibalizing parts from the two that got into the plane cabin.” He picked up the lightweight device. “It wasn’t difficult. I get the feeling these were meant to be assembled by semiskilled workers. They’re modular, cheap. Mostly dual-use off-the-shelf parts. Circuit boards. Memory chips. Batteries. Optical sensors.” She extended her hand, and he passed the dead drone to her. McKinney’s curiosity had already bested her anxiety, and she peered into its recesses, rotating it around. The broken propellers flopped around at the ends of wires. Her nose caught the peppery scent she remembered from the Colorado swarm. “There’s that smell again. Like cayenne pepper. I’d like to know the chemical composition.” Odin nodded. “Mouse knows a few local chemists. Ex-cartel people. I’ll see if he can get it analyzed.” She kept sniffing and traced it to nozzles next to a row of silvery capsules in the frame. They looked like the nitrous oxide cartridges used for whipped cream or the CO2 propellant in paintball guns. “Four capsules. Like the chemical glands of a weaver. Mixing them in varying proportions to communicate different messages. That would match ant behavior. It’s how they lay down a pheromone matrix.” “So they were leaving a trail."