The Vital Question
Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex LifeBook - 2015
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?
Baker & Taylor
An award-winning author and biochemist, building on the pillars of evolutionary theory and drawing on cutting-edge research into the link between energy and genes, argues that evolution of multicellular life was the result of a single event.
The author argues that biological energy is the key to evolution and how complex cells arose from bacteria. He demonstrates how the properties of life emerged from the disequilibrium of the planet, how the origin of life was driven by energy flux, that proton gradients were key to the emergence of cells, and that their use constricted the structure of bacteria and archaea. He describes how these constraints affected the later evolution of cells and kept bacteria and archaea simple organisms, and how an endosymbiosis in which one bacterium got inside an archaeon broke those constraints and enabled the evolution of more complex cells, and why it only happened once. He discusses how this relationship predicts the properties of complex cells, such as the nucleus, sex, two sexes, and the distinction between the immortal germline and the mortal body, and how this can allow the prediction of fertility and fitness in youth and aging and disease. Annotation ©2015 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)
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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(Not quite on the topic, but interesting):...Could there be a subconscious connection between the modularity of proteins and cells, and our sense of aesthetics? Our eyes are composed of millions of photoreceptor cells, rods and cones-each receptor switched on or off with a ray of light, forming an image as a mosaic. This is reconstructed in our mind's eye as a neuronal mosaic, conjured up from splintered features of the image-brightness, colour, contrast, edge, movement. Mosaics stir up emotions in part because they splinter reality in a similar way to our minds. Cells can do this because they are modular units, living tiles, each one with its own vital place, its own job, 40 trillion pieces making up the wonderful three-dimensional mosaic that is the human being. (page 237-8)
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