We all know about natural selection and the so-called survival of the fittest, which governs how evolution preserves useful adaptations in each subsequent generation of a species. Unfortunately, random change alone could not have produced life as we know it – the maths don't add up, according to cutting-edge research by Andreas Wagner in the revolutionary field of computational biology. In the last decade, Wagner has detected the biological networks guiding the creation of innovation. His investigations of the genes of everything from bacteria to humans is rewriting our understanding of how exactly evolution works and providing insights into the origins of creativity, with lessons that can be applied far beyond genomes. In The Arrival of the Fittest, Wagner delivers a breathtaking new look at our origins, from the genes up.
Andreas Wagner is Professor in the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Zurich and an award-winning science writer. He received his PhD from Yale and has held research positions at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The author of more than 150 scientific papers published in leading journals including Nature and Science, this is his first book popularizing his new evolutionary systems research. He lives in Zurich.
"Brilliantly polarises scientists' research into the mystery of life itself"
– Financial Times, Readers' books of the year
"A truly revolutionary book"
– Independent, best books of the year
"Elegantly explores the cunning short cuts nature uses to achieve the seemingly impossible"
– Sunday Times, a best science book of the year
"Arrival of the Fittest should be mandatory, corrective reading [...] mind-bending [...] tremendously exciting"
– BBC Focus
"Quite astounding [...] The ideas are big, and the numbers hyper-astronomical, but Wagner has a gift for explaining the abstract [...] elegantly"
"The author provides a detailed argument in support of the idea that evolutionary adaptations are not random as Darwin originally proposed, but instead, adaptations obey a set of laws that maximise discovery of new molecules and molecular pathways [...] I already expect I'll see this book on next year's Royal Society Winton Prize shortlist"
– Guardian Science blog
"A book of startling congruencies, insightful flashes and an artful enthusiasm that delivers knowledge from the inorganic page to our organic brains."
"[...] Wagner's book is an eye-opener. As a bonus, his writing is clear and elegant, with vivid analogies and concrete examples to illustrate his key points. You'll never think about evolution in the same way again."
– Bob Holmes, New Scientist, 01-12-2014
"Arrival of the Fittest contains brand-new scientific insights told in sparkling literary prose. It is a landmark book that combines original, perhaps revolutionary ideas elegantly explained. In particular, the concept of genotype networks – that there are thousands of ways to alter a metabolic pathway without stopping it from working – promises to solve the enduring puzzle of how natural selection can be such a force for innovation."
– Matt Ridley, author of The Red Queen
"Arrival of the Fittest reveals the astonishing hidden structure of evolution, long overlooked by biologists, which makes Darwin's grand idea viable after all. At the same time, it makes life seem even richer and more remarkable than you thought. Darwin would surely have loved this book; I think you will too."
– Philip Ball, former editor at Nature; author of The Self-Made Tapestry
"Wagner's engaging and delightful book will open your eyes to the mysteries of innovation. His insights will entertain and astonish you and change the way you think."
– Daniel E. Lieberman, Edwin M. Lerner II Professor of Biological Sciences, Harvard University; author of The Story of the Human Body
"A radical departure from the mainstream perspective on Darwinian evolution. Wagner cuts to the core of innovation in living systems. Fundamental. Entertaining. Brilliant."
– Rolf Dobelli, author of The Art of Thinking Clearly
"If there is one subject even more controversial than the evolution of intelligence, it is the intelligence of evolution. Andreas Wagner presents a compelling, authoritative, and up-to-date case for bottom-up intelligence in biological evolution, and it sticks."
– George Dyson, author of Turing's Cathedral
"Andreas Wagner is one of those rare scientists with the courage and intellect to see the real nature of evolution."
– Frank Vertosick, M.D., FACS, author of When the Air Hits Your Brain and Mind