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'A gripping new drama in science ... if you want to understand how the concept of life is changing, read this' Professor Andrew Briggs, University of Oxford
When Darwin set out to explain the origin of species, he made no attempt to answer the deeper question: what is life?
For generations, scientists have struggled to make sense of this fundamental question. Life really does look like magic: even a humble bacterium accomplishes things so dazzling that no human engineer can match it. And yet, huge advances in molecular biology over the past few decades have served only to deepen the mystery. So can life be explained by known physics and chemistry, or do we need something fundamentally new?
In this penetrating and wide-ranging new analysis, world-renowned physicist and science communicator Paul Davies searches for answers in a field so new and fast-moving that it lacks a name, a domain where computing, chemistry, quantum physics and nanotechnology intersect. At the heart of these diverse fields, Davies explains, is the concept of information: a quantity with the power to unify biology with physics, transform technology and medicine, and even to illuminate the age-old question of whether we are alone in the universe.
From life's murky origins to the microscopic engines that run the cells of our bodies, The Demon in the Machine is a breath-taking journey across the landscape of physics, biology, logic and computing. Weaving together cancer and consciousness, two-headed worms and bird navigation, Davies reveals how biological organisms garner and process information to conjure order out of chaos, opening a window on the secret of life itself.
On April 8, 1960, a young American astronomer, Frank Drake, turned a radio telescope toward the star Tau Ceti and listened for several hours to see if he could detect any artificial radio signals. With this modest start began a worldwide project of potentially momentous significance. Known as SETI - Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence - it is an amalgam of science, technology, adventure, curiosity and a bold vision of humanity's destiny. Drake has said that SETI is really a search for ourselves - who we are and what our place might be in the grand cosmic scheme of things.
Yet with one tantalizing exception, SETI has produced only negative results. After millions of hours spent eavesdropping on the cosmos astronomers have detected only the eerie sound of silence. What does that mean? Are we in fact alone in the vastness of the universe? Is ET out there, but not sending any messages our way? Might we be surrounded by messages we simply don't recognize? Is SETI a waste of time and money, or should we press ahead with new and more sensitive antennas? Or look somewhere else? And if a signal were to be received, what then? How would we - or even should we - respond
Inspired at an impressionable age by the work of science fiction writers H.G.Wells and Arthur C Clarke, Paul Davies has thought long and hard about ways to travel in time. Here, the best-selling popular science writer finally reveals how it can be done - without breaking the laws of physics and without causing any earth-shattering paradoxes. Since time is money, time travel is a costly business. But with the help of a handy black hole, or better a wormhole, and a bit of luck, Davies's guide illustrates how this new mode of travel could yet be a viable option.
"An entertaining tour around a fascinating topic, conducted by a world-class physicist" - SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
In the constellation of Eridanus there lurks a cosmic mystery. It's as if something has taken a huge bite out of the universe, leaving a super-void. What could be the culprit? A super massive black hole? Another, bigger universe? Or an expanding vacuum bubble, destined to envelop and annihilate everything in existence?
Scientists now understand the history of our universe better than the history of our own planet, but they continue to uncover startling new riddles-the hole in the universe being just one. In this electrifying book, award-winning physicist Paul Davies walks us through the puzzles and paradoxes that have preoccupied cosmologists from ancient Greece to the present day. Laying bare the audacious research that has led us to mind-bending solutions, Davies reveals how we might begin to approach the greatest outstanding enigmas of all.