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The vital question : energy, evolution, and the origins of complex life

Author: Nick Lane
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2015]
Edition/Format:   Print book : English : First American editionView all editions and formats
Summary:
A biochemist, building on the pillars of evolutionary theory and drawing on cutting-edge research into the link between energy and genes, argues that the evolution of multicellular life was the result of a single event.
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Details

Genre/Form: Nonfiction
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Nick Lane
ISBN: 9780393088816 0393088812
Language Note: Text in English.
OCLC Number: 891611197
Description: 360 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Contents: Part I: The problem. What is life? ; What is living? --
Part II: The origin of life. Energy at life's origin ; The emergence of cells --
Part III: Complexity. The origins of complex cells ; Sex and the origins of death --
Part IV: Predictions. The power and the glory --
Epilogue: From the deep.
Responsibility: Nick Lane.

Abstract:

A biochemist, building on the pillars of evolutionary theory and drawing on cutting-edge research into the link between energy and genes, argues that the evolution of multicellular life was the result of a single event.

"To explain the mystery of how life evolved on Earth, Nick Lane explores the deep link between energy and genes. The Earth teems with life: in its oceans, forests, skies and cities. Yet there's a black hole at the heart of biology. We do not know why complex life is the way it is, or, for that matter, how life first began. In The Vital Question, award-winning author and biochemist Nick Lane radically reframes evolutionary history, putting forward a solution to conundrums that have puzzled generations of scientists. For two and a half billion years, from the very origins of life, single-celled organisms such as bacteria evolved without changing their basic form. Then, on just one occasion in four billion years, they made the jump to complexity. All complex life, from mushrooms to man, shares puzzling features, such as sex, which are unknown in bacteria. How and why did this radical transformation happen? The answer, Lane argues, lies in energy: all life on Earth lives off a voltage with the strength of a lightning bolt. Building on the pillars of evolutionary theory, Lane's hypothesis draws on cutting-edge research into the link between energy and cell biology, in order to deliver a compelling account of evolution from the very origins of life to the emergence of multicellular organisms, while offering deep insights into our own lives and deaths. Both rigorous and enchanting, The Vital Question provides a solution to life's vital question: why are we as we are, and indeed, why are we here at all?"--Publisher's description.

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