Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Life Ascending by Nick Lane

First of all, if you really want to understand some basic economics of why we are in such current problems, see the video below from RSA.

Well, I am whittling down pile of books I have on my library floor. This is, of course, another great book. Its full tile if Life Ascending, The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution. In this list is death. I have seen such list before and I know it is hard at first to conceive death as a great invention. The others are the origin of Life, DNA, Photosynthesis, the Complex Cell, Sex, Movement, Sight, Hot Blood, Consciousness and Death. Just how did this all happen? Nick Lane’s book is here to explain it.

How did life invent itself? Where did DNA come from? How did consciousness develop? These are just the sort of questions that Lane’s book is prepared to answer. We have great new research methods to help him do so.

The one think he seems to find very fascinating is the fact that at one time one cell got inside and life just exploded from there. As far as we know at the moment, this just happened once. How this happened is quite well explained in a BBC video called “How did the evolution of complex life on Earth begin?” See a 4 minute video on this. The implication is that life happens quickly or not at all.

He says interesting things about oxygen. Oxygen respiration is 40% efficient (better than other forms, like sulfur). Long food chains are only possible with oxygen. This makes big life possible. It is also only with oxygen that predation pay.

Nick Lane has his own site. It is well worth visiting. There is a great review at The Guardian. There is another one at Newsblog.

And an even better review at Take on Darwin. This reviewer Shaun Johnston compared this book to Dawkins' "The Ancestor's Tale". In my opinion, this is a much better book. I had high hopes for Dawkins book, but it was a disappointment. This book is not. Nick Lane is very passionate about science. Dawkins is very passionate about who he hates (Bush, Christians, Creationist). He used to write better books and be more passionate about science.

In 2010 his book, Life Ascending, wins Royal Society Prize for Science Books. See article on this in The Telegraph.

This is a very good short video by Nick Lane on YouTube. It is around 4 minutes long. There is a short interview with Nick Lane (6 minutes) at BBC. However, you have to put up with a short commercial first. Also, BBC has a tendency to take things off their site, but hopefully it will be up there for a while.

On my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See Lane. Also, this book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews.

No comments:

Post a Comment