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Nick Lane is a biochemist at the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College, London and the founding member of the UCL Consortium for Mitochondrial Research. He was recently awarded a 2015 Biochemical Society Award for his outstanding contribution to the molecular life sciences. He is the author of Life Ascending, Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the meaning of life, and Oxygen: The molecule that made the world, all of which were widely praised by both the scientific and popular press.
Why is life the way it is? Bacteria evolved into complex life just once in four billion years of life on earth - and all complex life shares many strange properties, from sex to ageing and death. If life evolved on other planets, would it be the same or completely different?
Winner of the 2010 Royal Society Prize for science books 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.