From the Back Cover
An Outline of a Fundamentally New Evolutionary Synthesis Reflecting Key Advances in Genomics, Systems Biology, and Biological Physics
In this ambitious book, Eugene V. Koonin illuminates the gamut of randomness and regularity that is at the heart of life. Pointing the way beyond Modern Synthesis, Koonin brings together new data and concepts in an attempt to achieve a far deeper understanding of the interplay between chance and necessity that drives biological evolution. He explains evolution as a stochastic process based on historical contingency, constrained by requirements for maintaining cell organization and modulated by adaptation. To support his argument, he weaves together multiple conceptual threads: genomic comparisons that illuminate ancestral forms; new insights into pattern, process, and contingency in evolution; advances in the study of gene expression, protein abundance, and other phenotypic molecular characteristics; application of statistical physics to the study of the evolution of genes and genomes; and new perspectives on probability now emerging from modern cosmology.
The Logic of Chance shows why these insights make the twentieth-century scientific consensus about evolution appear outdated and incomplete and outlines a fundamentally new approach: one that is challenging, sometimes controversial, and always firmly rooted in hard science. Coverage includes
- Understanding the forces and patterns of evolution
- Surprising evolutionary reconstructions arising from the comparison of complete genomes
- Is there a tree of life--or a forest?
- How complex eukaryotes arose: tantalizing hints about one of evolutionary biology’s key enigmas
- Biological complexity and entropy: evolutionary lessons from Kolmogorov, Shannon, and Boltzmann
- Robustness, evolvability, and the creative role of noise in evolution
- The Last Universal Common Ancestor, cell origins, and the primordial gene pool
- The key role of viruses and the virus-cell arms race in evolution
- Life’s origin: estimating the probability of “unique events” in the context of modern cosmology
About the Author
Eugene V. Koonin is a Senior Investigator at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health), as well as the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Biology Direct. Dr. Koonin’s group performs research in many areas of evolutionary genomics, with a special emphasis on whole-genome approaches to the study of major transitions in life’s evolution, such as the origin of eukaryotes, the evolution of eukaryotic gene structure, the origin and evolution of different classes of viruses, and evolutionary systems biology. Dr. Koonin is the author of more than 600 scientific articles and a previous book Sequence--Evolution--Function: Computational Approaches in Comparative Genomics (with Michael Galperin  New York: Springer).