344 pages, B/w illus
How did life invent itself? Where did DNA come from? How did humans develop sight? Nick Lane draws upon the findings of powerful new research to piece together the mosaic of life's remarkable history.
Powerful new research methods are providing fresh and vivid insights into the makeup of life. Comparing gene sequences, examining the atomic structure of proteins and looking into the geochemistry of rocks have all helped to explain creation and evolution in more detail than ever before. Nick Lane uses the full extent of this new knowledge to describe the ten greatest inventions of life, based on their historical impact, role in living organisms today and relevance to current controversies. DNA, sex, sight and consciousnesses are just four examples.
Lane also explains how these findings have come about, and the extent to which they can be relied upon. The result is a gripping and lucid account of the ingenuity of nature, and a book which is essential reading for anyone who has ever questioned the science behind the glories of everyday life.
"This is a science book that doesn't cheat: the structure is logical, the writing is witty, and the hard questions are tackled head on"
– Tim Radford, Guardian
"Original and awe-inspiring [...] an exhilarating tour of some of the most profound and important ideas in biology"
– Michael Le Page, New Scientist
"Excellent and imaginative and, similar to life itself, full of surprises [...] a fascinating book for anyone interested in life and evolution, and how these discoveries were made"
"If Charles Darwin sprang from his grave, I would give him this fine book to bring him up to speed. It's a breathless bulletin from the accelerating rush of news about the secrets of life on planet earth."
– Matt Ridley
"Life Ascending earns its place on the bookshelf of every biology teacher – and anyone else interested in how we all got here."
– James Kingsland, Guardian
"an absolute joy [...] Dr Nick Lane employs a clarity of thought and an adroitness of expression that allows the reader to easily navigate his enviable breadth of knowledge. A breadth of knowledge that never scrimps on detail whilst delivering logic and inspiration in equal measure. The very definition of a 'must read' for anyone that has ever marvelled at the complexity of life"
– Laboratory News
"Lane brings science alive with the kind of beautiful prose that turns a book full of interesting information into a book you simply cannot put down."
– Amanda Gefter, New Scientist
"Nick Lane is one of the most exciting science writers of our time. His book [...] reads like a smooth chronicle, has great subject matter and is well argued."
– Steve Connor, Independent
"With its vast scope, page-turning revelations and elegant prose, Nick Lane's Life Ascending is everything one could hope for in a science book"
– Robert Matthews, Daily Telegraph
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Nick Lane studied biochemistry at Imperial College, London and is an honorary reader at University College, London. His first book, Oxygen, was one of the Sunday Times Books of the Year in 2002. His subsequent book, Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life was named as a book of the year in The Economist in 2005 and was short-listed for The Aventis Science Book Prize and the Times Higher Young Academic of the Year Award in 2006. His latest book is The Vital Question.