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Life's Edge

Life's Edge

The Search for What It Means to Be Alive

by Carl Zimmer
Hardback
Publication Date: 09/03/2021
  $42.50

"Carl Zimmer is one of the best science writers we have today."
--Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

We all assume we know what life is, but the more scientists learn about the living world--from protocells to brains, from zygotes to pandemic viruses--the harder they find it is to locate life's edge.

 
Carl Zimmer investigates one of the biggest questions of all: What is life? The answer seems obvious until you try to seriously answer it. Is the apple sitting on your kitchen counter alive, or is only the apple tree it came from deserving of the word? If we can't answer that question here on earth, how will we know when and if we discover alien life on other worlds? The question hangs over some of society's most charged conflicts--whether a fertilized egg is a living person, for example, and when we ought to declare a person legally dead.
 
Life's Edge is an utterly fascinating investigation that no one but one of the most celebrated science writers of our generation could craft. Zimmer journeys through the strange experiments that have attempted to re-create life. Literally hundreds of definitions of what that should look like now exist, but none has yet emerged as an obvious winner. Lists of what living things have in common do not add up to a theory of life. It's never clear why some items on the list are essential and others not. Coronaviruses have altered the course of history, and yet many scientists maintain they are not alive. Chemists are creating droplets that can swarm, sense their environment, and multiply. Have they made life in the lab?
 
Whether he is handling pythons in Alabama or searching for hibernating bats in the Adirondacks, Zimmer revels in astounding examples of life at its most bizarre. He tries his own hand at evolving life in a test tube with unnerving results. Charting the obsession with Dr. Frankenstein's monster and how Coleridge came to believe the whole universe was alive, Zimmer leads us all the way into the labs and minds of researchers working on engineering life from the ground up.
ISBN:
9780593182710
9780593182710
Category:
Popular science
Format:
Hardback
Publication Date:
09-03-2021
Language:
English
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Country of origin:
United States
Dimensions (mm):
235.2x158.24x32.51mm
Weight:
0.55kg
Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer reports from the frontiers of biology, where scientists are expanding our understanding of life. Since 2013 he has been a columnist at the New York Times. He is a popular speaker at universities, medical schools, museums, and festivals, and he is also a frequent on radio programs such as Radiolab and This American Life. In 2016, Zimmer won the Stephen Jay Gould Prize, awarded annually by the Society for the Study of Evolution to recognise individuals whose sustained efforts have advanced public understanding of evolutionary science.

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