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I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a book so much. The breadth of topics and the mind-blowing content kept me reading, even through the challenging parts. There are some profound ideas in here - in particular, hints about what consciousness might be - but even though the full answers still elude us there is more than a ring of truth about the importance of information science in biological processes. Can't recommend highly enough.
I am enthralled, in fact I've been reading it till 3 in the morning, every night since I got it. Riveting stuff. I just hope I have some idea of what life really is, before my spell is over! You have to read this! Thank you!
I am currently reading thus book and finding the links between energy and information fascinating. The knowledge extends from Shrodinger and DNA . It might also explain the biggest dangers humanity currently faces with the extensive knowledge of us all gathered and controlled by those who would profit from such knowledge. We see already the extensive power and control humanity finds itself manipulated by the immoral. We sense already for a return to the need for regulation and control; for morality and policing. Human needs still evident in our most recent political upheavals!?
This is the second book of this author that I have read. It is very interesting. Explains Maxwell's demons very well as well as some inner working of cells, and how quantum mechanics plays important role in cells. I also liked the discussion of epigenetics. Very interesting book. I could not put it aside.
At some stage in one’s life (maybe) every person gives thought to “Who or what am I” – certainly philosophers and theologians have grappled with the concepts for centuries (ever since the evolution of Homo Sapiens?). As a scientist (retired chemist), I have always been puzzled, given that the universe tends to maximum chaos (maximum Entropy) then how does life – initially creating order out of chaos – then, like a machine, finally running down to death, exist?? Here is a latest synthesis of ideas, from a science communicator / author /Physicist, based on the whole gamut of our scientific knowledge. His thesis is that the missing element is “information” and how this is used in and by cells. He revisits the thought experiments of Maxwell’s Demon (could we somehow separate high energy molecules from low and extract energy) and Feynman’s “ratchet” to look at how life does not disobey the laws of thermodynamics and where information imparted via DNA/RNA helps to drive cells forward. Identifying the biological machines in the cells and how they are energised. Initially think programming in a computer but ultimately so much more complex. The author looks at the complex control, feedback and repair mechanisms in the cells (Cancer on this basis appears to be a potentially universal fault of all multicellular organisms where the repair mechanisms and the life cycle of cells get totally out of kilter). Interesting that differentiated cells have the same Genotype (DNA) expressed as differing functions (phenotype). Stem cells are the starting point which can become any final cell by genes being switched on or off. Electric fields (across cell membranes) , quantum mechanics and tunnelling , Laboratory experiments ( shades of Frankenstein?) all get a look in – basically the last 10 years of the advances in molecular biology. The final chapter ends up discussing the nature of “consciousness”– no more spoilers. OK – so is this book just for “scientists” or are the ideas comprehensible to others? The author lays it out with excellent logic (and latest up to date references for relevant work and ideas) starting with the ideas for current organisms and their interaction with their environments – updated Darwin and Dawkins! Worth a read just to pick up the overall ideas if not the exact detail - which (even on my pre production copy) is heavily referenced
The plus of the book is that it is full of very nice ideas that can be applied to many different areas of science, not only to understand life. It would serve as a very nice and simple introduction to many of those ideas, but if the reader is interesting in going deeper into any of them, then she/he can start with some of the literature cited at the end of the book. In particular, I can recommend for different topics the following simple but beautifully explained introductions: 1) Origin of life: - Stuart Kauffman, A world beyond physics. Also, - A vital question from Nick Lane 2) Quantum mechanics, biology, and information: - Sean Carroll, Something Deeply Hidden. - Jim Alkhalili and Jonjoe MacFadden, Life on the edge. - David Deutsch, The fabric of reality Of course to go deeper and do some science on this themes, many of the technical papers cited in all these books are important. Hope this helps people to go deeper into this fascinating area.