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Creation: The Origin of Life / The Future of Life Kindle Edition

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*Starred Review* The first part of this book relates what’s been learned about the origin of life on earth; the second, what’s being done to modify existing life-forms and produce new ones. Though both are engaging, many may find the first more dazzling. Rutherford starts small, discussing the cell and how it is begotten, not created but ultimately taking in genetics and DNA as well as the earth’s physical history before life emerged from a microscopic chamber at the bottom of the sea, four million years ago. The second part lacks the first’s sweeping grandeur, being set in a much narrower time frame, the 30 years bioengineering has been with us. That’s long enough, however, to have seen gene-splicing give way to synthetic biology at the field’s cutting-edge as the spider-goat and biofuels have been supplanted in novelty by the successful copying by RNA of a molecule formed by swapping in a different amino acid for one of the four naturally found in the DNA sequence, which ultimately suggests a different basis for life, one that is created, not begotten by intelligent (human) design. Creation is the first book by this geneticist-journalist with two well-received BBC4 series, The Gene Code and The Cell, to his credit. May it augur many more top-drawer science books by Rutherford. --Ray Olson


A superbly written explanation of how the origin of life on Earth became a question for science, and what the answer might be -- Brian Cox One of the most eloquent and genuinely thoughtful books on science over the past decade ... You will not find a better, more balanced or up-to-date take on either the origin of life or synthetic biology ... Essential reading for anyone interested in the coming revolution, which could indeed rival the Industrial Revolution or the internet -- Nick Lane Observer Prepare to be astounded. There are moments when this book is so gripping it reads like a thriller. Fascinating Mail on Sunday This is a quite delightful two books in one. It is becoming increasingly clear that the 21st is the century of biology. This book is the perfect "story so far" -- Jim Al-Khalili, author of Paradox An engaging account of both the mystery of life's origin and its impending resolution, as well as a fascinating glimpse of the impending birth of a new, synthetic biology -- Matt Ridley, author of Genome A witty, engaging and eye-opening explanation of the basic units of life, right back to our common ancestors and on to their incredible synthetic future. The mark of a really good science book, it shows that the questions we still have are just as exciting as the answers we already know -- Dara O Briain In this book of two halves, Rutherford tells the epic history of life on earth, and eloquently argues the case for embracing technology which allows us to become biological designers -- Alice Roberts The perfect primer on the past and future of DNA ... Rutherford tells his stories with great brio and a disarming line in personal commentary Guardian I warmly recommend Creation. Rutherford's academic background in genetics gives him a firm grasp of the intricacies of biochemistry - and he translates these superbly into clear English Financial Times Fascinating ... The extraordinary science and his argument are worth every reader's scrutiny Sunday Telegraph Suspenseful, erudite and thrilling Prospect A fascinating glimpse into our past and future ... [Rutherford] argues persuasively against those who seek to hold back scientific progress. His illuminating book is full of optimism about what we might be able to achieve Sunday Times

Product Details

  • File Size: 1272 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (April 4, 2013)
  • Publication Date: April 4, 2013
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #895,539 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Book Shark TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Creation: How Science is Reinventing Life Itself by Adam Rutherford

"Creation: How Science is Reinventing Life Itself" is a fascinating journey from the origins of all life and the origins of new artificial life. Science writer, Adam Rutherford takes the reader through the golden age of biology and explores the pathways to life on Earth and how to re-create it. What sets this book apart is the author's innate ability to make complex topics accessible, enlightening and entertaining. This excellent 288 page-book is composed of two halves: the first half covers the origin of life, while the second half covers how scientists are designing, engineering and building new life-forms for a purpose.

1. A well-written, engaging, entertaining and accessible book on modern biology.
2. A fascinating topic in the hands of an author with great communication skills.
3. What a wonderful way to learn about the history of biology.
4. The origin of cells. Cell theory. "Our understanding of the origin of new cells can be largely attributed to Robert Remak--a lost hero of biology, and a victim of politics and race."
5. The grand theory of evolution. An excellent explanation of what a theory constitutes in science.
6. This book stands out in making complex biological topics accessible; a positive worth repeating. "There are no life-forms we know of that do not employ and entirely depend upon it: DNA, made of four letters, translates into proteins, made of twenty amino acids. It is known as the central dogma: DNA makes RNA makes protein. The fact that all known life is utterly dependent on this system makes it seem almost inconceivable that it is not related by a single, common origin."
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By blogbookz on June 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
The first part of this book introduces the reader to the field of
genetics. No science background is needed to read the book - it
starts with basic concepts of biology and incrementally
introduces more advanced aspects of cells, proteins, viruses, and
DNA. The author discusses the scientific concepts in a
conversational manner, with many witty and insightful observations
that make the book very readable. By the end of the first part, it
was really impressive to see how many concepts in cellular biology
had been covered. I felt like I had achieved a good basis for
understanding articles about genetic engineering.

The second part of the book delves into the current projects in
genetics, from approaches to fighting cancer, to modifying food
and agricultural crops, to technologies for astronauts to use.

Had I read a book like this before going to college, I would have
gone into the field of cellular biology. The book highlights the
ways that the work in this field is critical for solving
challenges in health, energy, and the environment. Many
discoveries are happening through the convergence of science and
engineering using the tools of synthetic biology.

The book explains how cells can be designed and bred to become
part of an arsenal of biological components and tools. The various
cellular assemblages suggest routes for fighting disease,
purifying environmental pollution, and finding new sources of

I see this book as instrumental to anyone that has to deal with
companies that are in the healthcare/agriculture/pharmaceutical
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Steve G on June 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Although the subjects of evolution, genetic engineering and synthetic biology can be complex, author Adam Rutherford does an excellent job of breaking down the detail and explaining everything that you need to know. And he does this with a sense of humor. The footnotes were important because they explained a lot; in addition this is where Rutherford's sense of humor shone through. With most books, I take a quick glance at the notes at the end of the book and then stop; in this case I read all the notes. They were that interesting. Rutherford's tone was very informal and friendly, I felt that he was talking to me. There were a couple of wording elements that threw me off: Rutherford kept referring to Crick and Watson but I was more familiar with Watson and Crick, which is the actual order of their authorship. To his credit Rutherford gives full credit to Rosalind Franklin. He also writes about Darwinian change instead of natural selection. I strongly recommend this book for biologists, fans of the history of science and anyone concerned about genetic engineering and GMOs. A word of caution for who fear GMOs: Rutherford may change your mind. Readers of this book will might also like The Egg and Sperm Race and Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Creation is brief and not overly academic, which is the way I like my science books. Part One provides an overview of current scientific thought about the origin of life. Part Two (to me, the more interesting part), subtitled "The Future of Life," discusses the creation of new, human-engineered life forms, a branch of science broadly known as synthetic biology.

Creation begins with a brief history of biological science as it pertains to the discovery of cells as the basic component of living things. Cell theory and Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection both speak to the fundamental truth that "life is the adapted continuation of what came before." Does this mean that all life -- spiders and turnips and bacteria -- can be traced to a common origin, even to a single cell? To answer to that question, Adam Rutherford discusses the history of genetics, explains how DNA works, and argues that the merger of two single cell organisms (an archaea swallowing a bacteria) began the creation of complex life two billion years ago. Rutherford proffers the "left-handed" nature of the proteins that make up life as forceful evidence that "life is of a single origin." That originating entity, the Last Universal Common Ancestor (nicknamed "Luca"), is where you, as a living being, began, existing in your present form "via a colossal series of iterations." But if Luca started it all, how was Luca created?

The question takes Rutherford back 4.5 billion years, to the Earth's creation. The influence of geology on biology takes up a good chunk of the ensuing narrative, culminating in a dissection (and rejection) of Darwin's concept of a "primordial soup" as the origin of life. This leads to an even more fundamental question: "What is life?
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