Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher Reissue Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
2016 Book Awards
Browse award-winning titles. See all 2016 winners
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Top Customer Reviews
Contents of this book are a compilation of reflective articles originally published in a medical journal. Chapter topics range all over the place, but they present many topics drawn from biological thought prominent through the mid-1970s -- everything from molecular biology to Gaia to sociobiology.
There is a wealth of material here appropriate for discussion among undergraduate students, professionals, and perhaps even science-directed high school students. Each of the 29 chapters are about 3-5 pages long, can be easily digested, and beg to be reflected upon and discussed.
As for the writing, other Amazon reviewers have referred to the writing in this book as being poetic. While I didn't see so much of that, I was struck by Thomas' ability to turn a phrase, make a point, and discuss complex biological ideas in a manner that is easily understood. The writing in the book is a definite plus.
There are also times in the book where I can imagine Thomas grinning as he wrote, or, perhaps giving the occasional wink! He must have had a wonderful sense of humor.
OK, back to the theme...if there is one...it seems to me that one common theme of several of the chapters has to do with communication -- oral, chemical, behavioral, and genetic. Other possible themes include the fact that humans are "not all that." That we are part of the global system, not running it. Another possibility includes the idea that everything can be an analogy of the way that a cell works -- organelles, membranes, cellular processes, products, and so forth.
This is excellent reading for anyone interested in ideas about life and living. Well written, occasionally humorous, and intruiging.
I have chosen this book as one for all of my ninth grade Honors Biology students to read and report about. The book definitely makes the reader 'think'...you will not be able to just read one page after the other..one will need to keep a dictionary close by. Thomas uses quite alot of scientific terminology. It is definitely not for the lazy reader. It is for those individuals who read to learn more and enjoy the challenge of new vocabulary to broaden their own horizons in science or language itself. I enjoy giving my students a challenge and that is exactly what this book offers to the young mind.
In a particularly interesting essay on "organelles" Thomas points out that mitochondria, the engines of the cell in every animal, do not exchange DNA like every other part of the body in sexual procreation, but in fact, are passed directly from the ovum to the zygote in the cytoplasm, and never change or recombine their DNA.
This apparently being a protective mechanism developed over 100's of thousands of years because the preservation of the exact mitochondrial DNA sequence is so important, that it could not be left to chance, as are most every other characteristic of the animal.
Throughout the book, Thomas reveals truly extraordinary facts about biology and microbiology that tend to leave the reader in actual awe. For an incredibly interesting and fast education about cellular biology this National Book Award Winning collection is truly a fascinating read.
"Viewed from the distance of the moon, the astonishing thing about the earth, catching the breath, is that it is alive." - so begins the essay "The World's Biggest Membrane", in which he likens the earth with its atmosphere to a cell with its membrane. "The photographs show the dry, pounded surface of the moon in the foreground, dead as an old bone. Aloft, floating free beneath the moist, gleaming membrane of bright blue sky, is the rising earth, the only exuberant thing in this part of the cosmos. [...] It has the organized, self-contained look of a live creature, full of information, marvelously skilled in handling the sun."
What other science writer manages to surprise and delight you at every turn of a phrase? What other poet brings the incredible precise detail and the easy authority of a practising scientist? What other essayist ranges from the smallest part of a cell to the solar system with equal curiosity and interest and yet always manages to keep man in focus?
Lewis Thomas opened up a whole niche of science writing by showing its immense appeal, which is yet not mass appeal. Writers and thinkers as highly talented and diverse as Natalie Angier and Diane Ackerman have settled in this niche, and have prospered there.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent reading, informative and at the same time entertaining. Recommend this easy read.Published 1 month ago by Judith E. Sullivan
A woman in my Book Club chose Lives of A Cell for us to read. Initially I was intimidated by the scientific terms in the writings however after reading one essay I was completely... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Kathy
I really liked the essays in this book. They have a great way of seeing things.Published 5 months ago by Kyle S.
Terrific author. Nourishing and uplifting observations on the world.Published 7 months ago by Gary Scialdone