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Publisher's Summary

Nobel laureate Erwin Schrödinger's What is Life? is one of the great science classics of the 20th century. A distinguished physicist's exploration of the question which lies at the heart of biology, it was written for the layman but proved one of the spurs to the birth of molecular biology and the subsequent discovery of the structure of DNA. The philosopher Karl Popper hailed it as a "beautiful and important book" by "a great man to whom I owe a personal debt for many exciting discussions." 

It appears here together with "Mind and Matter", his essay investigating a relationship which has eluded and puzzled philosophers since the earliest times. Schrödinger asks what place consciousness occupies in the evolution of life and what part the state of development of the human mind plays in moral questions. 

Brought together with these two classics are Schrödinger's autobiographical sketches. They offer a fascinating fragmentary account of his life as a background to his scientific writings, making this volume a valuable addition to the shelves of scientist and layman alike.

©1967 Cambridge University Press (P)2019 Tantor

What listeners say about What Is Life?

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An interesting read.

At times the author tends to drift into speculation about mechanisms of human evolution in particular that is based on a now dated view of natural selection: as being a process of 'perfecting' traits to an optimal form in an unchanging fitness landscape. This is reflecting views that were often held at the time of writing and of course without the benefit of the last 60 years of research to shape the authors arguments. That being said the book is very detailed and provides many interesting and thought provocing observations on life the universe and everything and in a very engaging manner. Well worth a read and I would suggest useful as part of further reading material for students of evolutionary biology.

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  • Philomath
  • 25-01-2019

An extraordinary look at life by a Physicist

One needs to read this book in context. Erwin Schrodinger was an Austrian physicist who won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of quantum wave theory in 1934 and was a pioneer of Quantum Theory.

This is not only a unique book because it shows biology and the complexity of Life through the eyes of a quantum physicist, but also through the inquisitive and rigorous lens of a theorist.

It is no wonder that this book was an inspiration to many prominent scientist of late 20th and early 21st century.

Fascinating in its explanation of life as an extension of chemistry and physics one cannot but be amazed at the collaboration of molecules in a symphony creating cells the basic building blocks of life.

This is mandatory reading for all scientists, and a true treasure in insightful critical thinking across many fields.

A highly recommended classic.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Marty L. Illers
  • 07-06-2020

Scientific Thinking At Its Very Best.

The only thing that parallels the quality of this writing is the quality of the reader. I listen to this book over and over - the clarity of Schrödinger, his thought and syntax style is inspiring.

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  • J. D. Botet
  • 11-12-2021

Not for audio

This book is too complex for audio format. Better on paper with figures. Avoid audio version!

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  • From Sacramento
  • 01-10-2020

illuminating and superb narration

the latin french and german was spot on, on top of the incredibly illuminating content in physics biology consciousness and philosophy. greatest questions of all time. spectacular..

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  • Michael D. Fahey
  • 10-06-2019

A rare and valued find

This book was published 2 mo before I was born almost 75 years ago. it's amazing how a great mind can make such accurate observations before Watson and Crick'. You'll find this confirmed in 'A Crack in Creation' by Doudna

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  • Domenick Lazzara
  • 31-10-2021

Skip the performance

Book is phenomenal but narrator is terrible; might as well be a computer reading it.

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  • Mike Foley
  • 13-09-2021

Interesting read.

This turned out to be more of an autobiography of Shrodinger but that was a good thing. His observations on life, physics and mankind gives us an insight into one of the titans of quantum physics in the early years. Good read.

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  • Venkat L
  • 11-09-2021

The summary that everyone should read

Relevant for the scientist and lay man alike. For the scientist, it helps calibrate the potential of the scientific method and induces humility in bigots of the methodology, for the lay man it shakes them out of their conditioning and nudges them towards contemplation. This book should be curriculum

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  • Silvio Papic
  • 30-07-2021

useful new ideas

the book contains some very useful insights about what are characteristics of life and, I would say, question evolution as theory about life. but it the text was unnecessary confusing at times.

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  • Traci Adams
  • 18-01-2021

Timeless Classic

Schrodinger pontificate the philosophical and biological in a classic treatise still affirmed for genius. Chillingly Erwin concludes his autobiography by pontificating all the women's hearts he broke along the way, did the cat die in the box after all? Some bombs are best left ticking...

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  • Tom O'Rourke
  • 27-10-2021

Excellent

Well worth a thousand reads more than the first and with audiobook as the next best if not the ultimate thing to aid learning as the best companion

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  • Martin West From Chorley
  • 27-12-2021

Finding Schrodinger’s Cat.

In a time of uncertainty it is reassuring to find such a human rendition of physics and philosophy to offer a genuine meaning of life. From the off the Nobel Prize winners voice comes through the readers interpretation. A book that can be read or listened to on many levels. It only leaves me now to go and seek out a hard copy for my collection and listen to it again. Especially the very last chapter that if I have one suggestion could be listened to first rather than last. This is only to set you up for learning that the subjective world can be understood backwards and forwards and Schrodinger and his cat will show you how and why.

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  • louise burton
  • 10-09-2020

Fascinating

Loved the fact that his independent observations and mindset parallels many great thinkers. It seems there are essential truths..

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