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Life on the Edge : The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology
by Johnjoe McFadden and Jim Al-Khalili


Overview - New York Times Bestseller and an Amazon Best Science Book of 2015
Life is the most extraordinary phenomenon in the known universe; but how did it come to be? Even in an age of cloning and artificial biology, the remarkable truth remains: nobody has ever made anything living entirely out of dead material.
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More About Life on the Edge by Johnjoe McFadden; Jim Al-Khalili
 
 
 
Overview
New York Times Bestseller and an Amazon Best Science Book of 2015
Life is the most extraordinary phenomenon in the known universe; but how did it come to be? Even in an age of cloning and artificial biology, the remarkable truth remains: nobody has ever made anything living entirely out of dead material. Life remains the only way to make life. Are we still missing a vital ingredient in its creation?
Like Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, which provided a new perspective on how evolution works, Life on the Edge alters our understanding of our world's fundamental dynamics. Bringing together first-hand experience at the cutting edge of science with unparalleled gifts of explanation, Jim Al-Khalili and Johnjoe Macfadden reveal that missing ingredient to be quantum mechanics; the phenomena that lie at the heart of this most mysterious of sciences.
Drawing on recent ground-breaking experiments around the world, each chapter in Life on the Edge engages by illustrating one of life's puzzles: How do migrating birds know where to go? How do we really smell the scent of a rose? How do our genes copy themselves with such precision? Life on the Edge accessibly reveals how quantum mechanics can answer these probing questions of the universe.
Guiding the reader through the rapidly unfolding discoveries of the last few years, Al-Khalili and McFadden communicate the excitement of the explosive new field of quantum biology and its potentially revolutionary applications, while offering insights into the biggest puzzle of all: what is life? As they brilliantly demonstrate in these groundbreaking pages, life exists on the quantum edge.
Winner, Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication"

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780307986818
  • ISBN-10: 0307986810
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (NY)
  • Publish Date: July 2015
  • Page Count: 368


Related Categories

Books > Science > Physics - Quantum Theory
Books > Science > Life Sciences - Molecular Biology
Books > Science > Life Sciences - Biophysics

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-05-25
  • Reviewer: Staff

It is a challenging task to find ways to bridge two highly technical disciplines for the general reader, but McFadden, a molecular geneticist, and Al-Khalili, a theoretical physicist, attempt it with some success, using the principles of quantum mechanics to explain the intricacies of molecular biology. As the authors note, “quantum mechanics is utterly counterintuitive,” so bringing readers to the point where they can understand the topic well enough to appreciate how it might be applied to biological problems is nearly impossible. Nevertheless, McFadden and Al-Khalili find ways to present the results of some recent scientific studies so as to make the case that quantum mechanics likely plays a role in biological topics as diverse as enzymatic reactions, olfaction, and animal migration. They get a bit more speculative when they posit that such interactions may be responsible for many genetic mutations, consciousness, and the origin of life. They pay particular attention to Erwin Schrödinger’s 1944 book, What Is Life, claiming that many of the ideas set forth in that slim volume were both correct and essential for our current understanding of biology. However, most biologists and historians of biology disagree with the latter assertion. Until more experimentation catches up with the speculation offered, McFadden and Khalili’s interesting ideas are unlikely to be persuasive. Agent: Patrick Walsh, Conville & Walsh Literary Agency. (Aug.)

 
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