Friday, July 22, 2016

Book Review: Life on the Edge by JohnJoe McFadden and Jim Al-Khalili

The world is very large, but also very small. Authors McFadden and Al-Khalili take a look at quantum physics to see how things on an atomic and subatomic level can have a surprising effect on basic biology. As they state, “All this diversity in living matter, with its multitudinous forms and endless variety of functions, is made up from pretty much the same atoms.”  The book draws interesting connections between such esoteric topic such as particle duality and how it can be involved in ordinary chemical reaction. From there it’s on to biology and such far ranging topics as bird migration, biology’s connection to thermodynamics, and quantum mechanics role in the action of a certain enzymes.  

The connection between quantum mechanics and genetics is fascinating. Our very genetic code is written in quantum particles. “Quantum genes encode the classical structure of every microbe, plant and animal that has ever lived.” Life on earth would never have evolved without a little tiny push on the subatomic level.

By no means is this book is light reading. While well-written, a person definitely needs, at the very least, a basic understanding of physics and biology. I would recommend it as a good companion volume for any college student majoring in those subjects. As for the science laymen, if phrases such as quantum mechanics, chromosomes, DNA, or Schrodinger’s cat don’t leave you all tingly pass this book by. It’s not for you.

I receive this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.

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