Life is the most extraordinary phenomenon in the known universe; but how does it work? Even in this age of cloning and synthetic 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 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 life's dynamics. Bringing together firsthand experience of science at the cutting edge with unparalleled gifts of exposition and explanation, Jim Al-Khalili and Johnjoe Macfadden reveal the hitherto missing ingredient to be quantum mechanics and the strange phenomena that lie at the heart of this most mysterious of sciences.
Drawing on recent groundbreaking experiments around the world, they show how photosynthesis relies on subatomic particles existing in many places at once while inside enzymes, those workhorses of life that make every molecule within our cells, particles vanish from one point in space and instantly materialize in another.
Each chapter in Life on the Edge opens with an engaging example that illustrates 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 manage to copy themselves with such precision? - and then reveals how quantum mechanics delivers its answer.
Guiding the reader through the maze of rapidly unfolding discovery, Al-Khalili and McFadden communicate vividly the excitement of this explosive new field of quantum biology, with its potentially revolutionary applications, and offer insights into the biggest puzzle of all: what is life? As they brilliantly demonstrate here, life lives on the quantum edge.
©2015 Jim Al-Khalili (P)2015 Random House AudioBooks
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"Simply fascinating science"
As this is a review of an audio book, the prize has to go to the narrator, Pete Cross. His is one of the most pleasant reading voices I have yet listened to - and important for a scientific work. He engages the listener with his smooth reading style, very good voice tone and timbre and has taken the trouble to pronounce scientific words clearly. His diction and pronunciation cannot be faulted and he makes the contents compelling and interesting. In addition, the book itself is an extraordinary read and I have subsequently purchased the paperback as well for annotation purposes.
This is a compelling story of how quantum physics has expanded into the field of biology. The authors have delineated the process of how it all happened by quoting studies and experiments and have made the concepts very clear for a science-loving non-scientist. Famous physicists such as Max Planck, Erwin Schrödinger and Richard Feynman ('What I cannot create, I do not understand') are given their place in history while modern experimental findings tell of mankind's further adventures into this minuscule world. Thermodynamics, tunnelling and entanglement are explained with clear examples, along with the mysterious way in which measurement affects behaviour in the quantum world, not a new concept, but puts it into context. We have so much to learn.
"Tour de force! Excellent."
A truly eye opening book, with extremely convincing arguments to link how the very unlikely and paradoxical world of quantum dynamics may be the only reason that any life, as we know it, can exist.
The nuances of the effects of QD are eye opening in the extreme. The apparent workings of QD in the "warm and wet" environment of all living cells are so unlikely and of potentially world-changing in its possibilities in areas well outside living things, for instance, being able to use the effect to increase the energy extraction from the sun by using the same effect that photosynthesis does (which is almost 100% efficient!), would utterly change the possible options for our world energy requirements.
This is notwithstanding the question of how life came into existence in the first place, which is still a very live and puzzling thing.
The reader did his job well, although being English, there were naturally certain word pronunciations that grated - so not his fault!
I'd recommend this book to any enquiring mind. It will inspire you to view the world in a very different way. It's as though one has climbed a hill in what at first appeared an unpromising area and suddenly found oneself overlooking a stunning panorama with endless possibilities!
Yes, its needed there are some great ideas that need re listening (in my case) to fully take in the absolute content of the book.
The Journey of the butterfly from America to Mexico
His Narration was very good
"A cutting edge look at life and quantum physics"
Briging the gap between quantum physics and biology is no simple task but this book does a beautiful job of it and the narrative keeps the reader fully on board
"Important learning if you like science"
This was recommended by a physicist friend. It's highly readable despite providing a full revision of modern physics before explaining new learning about the role quantum mechanics plays in the biology of life. I thought I had a reasonable grasp of biology but this stuff is dynamite!
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