- File Size: 3167 KB
- Print Length: 369 pages
- Publisher: Profile Books; Main edition (April 23, 2015)
- Publication Date: April 23, 2015
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00MVAY7U6
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #323,105 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
The Vital Question: Why is life the way it is? Kindle Edition
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 mobile phone number.
Customers who bought this item also bought
Top Customer Reviews
'Life Ascending' subsequently deservedly went on to win the Royal Society's award for the best science book of the year.
'The Vital Question' is continuing the process of demolishing 'Signature in the Cell', and expanding the explanation of why life on Earth originated in deep-sea alkaline hydrothermal vents, and the reasons why it took the pathway that resulted.
It also goes in depth why complex life, Eukaryotes, took so long to originate. Strangely, Stephen Meyer in a throwaway line in his latest book 'Darwin's Doubt', claimed that evolutionary biologists find it difficult to explain the development of eukaryotic cells by means of random mutation and natural selection, referenced only by a purported discussion on his website for the book.
A rather strange claim, since it has been known for years that Eukaryotes (one of the 3 domains of life) arose from a symbiotic fusion between members of the other 2 domains, Archaea and Eubacteria. Not a random mutation (as Stephen Meyer indicates, but no one thought it was) but a rare fusion of 2 different cells. And everything subsequently was natural selection all the way.
A brilliant, well-written, easily understood book. Recommended for anyone interested in the real story of evolution, not the bastardised version of ID.
Forget what you thought you knew about primordial Earth: the toxic soup of ammonia, sulfur, and endless lightning strikes generating amino-acids. Lane explains how we now know the early Earth was in fact wet and relatively pleasant. He also shows why undersea sulfur vents couldn't have been the cradle of life but how alkaline formations most probably were. A lot of books help explain how evolution works but as Lane points out in the early part of the book the really challenging question for the last 150 years has been: how did life get started?
Lane correctly assumes that our chances of ever making contact with another technological civilization are highly unlikely. He bases his argument on the "eukaryotic life is hard" argument, which I don't buy for a variety of reasons, not the least being that there are several factors Lane appears not to have taken into account when forming his views. But I think his overall conclusion is correct, mainly because tool-making intelligent life is likely to be extremely rare, and any alien species that does proceed to create the kinds of technologies necessary for interstellar communication are likely (as are we) to render themselves extinct quite quickly. Even if they (and we) somehow survived death-by-stupidity the chances of overlap within a realistic distance are effectively zero. Had a meteorite impact not made the dinosaurs extinct we would not have eventually evolved into homo sapiens; furthermore our evolution was by no means inevitable. The chances of two species on different worlds within 100 light years (the realistic range of possible communication) of each other existing at the same time in a 13.2 billion year old galaxy are essentially zero. I'd put better odds on Creationists growing up and acquiring functional intelligence. And that's a very long shot indeed.