Please note that this book is sold in the USA under the title Creation: How Science is Reinventing Life Itself.
Recent breakthroughs in the science of life are solving the great mystery of its origin while giving us the power to design its future. Presented here back-to-back as a flip book that can be read from either end, these two gripping narratives reveal the full story of creation.
The Origin of Life: What is life? Where did it come from? In what form did it first appear? And how? Every creature, plant and cell that has ever inhabited the Earth owes its existence to the emergence, some four billion years ago, of a single life-form: the first ever living being, from which all other life subsequently evolved. Drawing on recent and dramatic advances in experimental biology, The Origin of Life takes us on a gripping, four-billion-year journey of discovery to explain exactly how such a thing could have happened. From interplanetary collisions to the inner-workings of cells and genes, it offers answers to the very grandest of questions before arriving at a thrilling solution to the greatest detective story of them all.
The Future of Life: Introducing a new chapter in human history: living technology. Our mastery of genetics now allows us to create entirely new life-forms within the laboratory – goats that produce spider silk in their milk, bacteria that excrete diesel, cells that identify and destroy tumours – offering tailor-made solutions to the crises of food shortage, pandemic disease and climate change. These living technologies can be downloaded for free or bought online in strands of ready-made DNA, using the equipment available in most student laboratories. But much remains unknown and this revolutionary technology is fraught with controversy, not least the fear of bioterrorism. The Future of Life introduces us to these remarkable innovations, explains how they work, explores the risks as well as the possibilities they afford, and presents a powerful argument for their benefit to humankind.
Dr Adam Rutherford is a geneticist, writer and broadcaster, whose work includes the award-winning series The Cell (BBC4), The Gene Code (BBC4), Horizon: 'Playing God' (BBC2) as well as numerous programmes for BBC Radio 4. He is an editor at the science journal Nature, writes for the Guardian and has given numerous prestigious lectures, as well as appearing in the 'Uncaged Monkeys' tour.
"Prepare to be astounded. There are moments when this book is so gripping it reads like a thriller"
– Mail on Sunday
"A superbly written explanation"
– Brian Cox
"The reader's sense of awe at the well-nigh inconceivable nature of nature is suitably awakened. The extraordinary science and Rutherford's argument are worth every reader's scrutiny. Fascinating."
– Sunday Telegraph
"One of the most eloquent and genuinely thoughtful books on science over the past decade. You will not find a better, more balanced or up-to-date take on the origin of life or synthetic biology. Essential reading for anyone interested in the coming revolution, which could indeed rival the Industrial Revolution or the internet"
"The perfect primer on the past and future of DNA"
"Suspenseful, erudite and thrilling"
"A witty, engaging and eye-opening explanation of the basic units of life, right back to our common ancestors and on to their incredible synthetic future. The mark of a really good science book, it shows that the questions we still have are just as exciting as the answers we already know"
– Dara O Briain
"This is a quite delightful two-books-in-one. Rutherford's lightness of touch in describing the dizzying complexity of life at the cellular level in The Origin of Life only serves to emphasise the sheer scale and ambition of the emerging field of synthetic biology"
– Jim Al Khalili
"A fascinating glimpse into our past and future. Rutherford argues persuasively against those who seek to hold back scientific progress. His illuminating book is full of optimism about what we might be able to achieve"
– Sunday Times
"Fresh, original and excellent. An eye-opening look at how we are modifying and constructing life. Totally fascinating"
"In this book of two halves, Rutherford tells the epic history of life on earth, and eloquently argues the case for embracing technology which allows us to become biological designers"
– Alice Roberts
"An engaging account of both the mystery of life's origin and its impending resolution as well as a fascinating glimpse of the impending birth of a new, synthetic biology''
– Matt Ridley, author of Genome
"I warmly recommend Creation. Rutherford's academic background in genetics gives him a firm grasp of the intricacies of biochemistry – and he translates these superbly into clear English"
– Financial Times