Oxygen

The Molecule that Made the World
Author: Nick Lane
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
ISBN: 9780198607830
Category: Science
Page: 374
View: 5869
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Oxygen takes the reader on an enthralling journey, as gripping as a thriller, as it unravels the unexpected ways in which oxygen spurred the evolution of life and death. The book explains far more than the size of ancient insects: it shows how oxygen underpins the origin of biological complexity, the birth of photosynthesis, the sudden evolution of animals, the need for two sexes, the accelerated ageing of cloned animals like Dolly the sheep, and the surprisingly long lives of bats and birds. Drawing on this grand evolutionary canvas, Oxygen offers fresh perspectives on our own lives and deaths, explaining modern killer diseases, why we age, and what we can do about it.

Power, Sex, Suicide

Mitochondria and the meaning of life
Author: Nick Lane
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 0191622591
Category: Science
Page: 368
View: 9678
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Mitochondria are tiny structures located inside our cells that carry out the essential task of producing energy for the cell. They are found in all complex living things, and in that sense, they are fundamental for driving complex life on the planet. But there is much more to them than that. Mitochondria have their own DNA, with their own small collection of genes, separate from those in the cell nucleus. It is thought that they were once bacteria living independent lives. Their enslavement within the larger cell was a turning point in the evolution of life, enabling the development of complex organisms and, closely related, the origin of two sexes. Unlike the DNA in the nucleus, mitochondrial DNA is passed down exclusively (or almost exclusively) via the female line. That's why it has been used by some researchers to trace human ancestry daughter-to-mother, to 'Mitochondrial Eve'. Mitochondria give us important information about our evolutionary history. And that's not all. Mitochondrial genes mutate much faster than those in the nucleus because of the free radicals produced in their energy-generating role. This high mutation rate lies behind our ageing and certain congenital diseases. The latest research suggests that mitochondria play a key role in degenerative diseases such as cancer, through their involvement in precipitating cell suicide. Mitochondria, then, are pivotal in power, sex, and suicide. In this fascinating and thought-provoking book, Nick Lane brings together the latest research findings in this exciting field to show how our growing understanding of mitochondria is shedding light on how complex life evolved, why sex arose (why don't we just bud?), and why we age and die. This understanding is of fundamental importance, both in understanding how we and all other complex life came to be, but also in order to be able to control our own illnesses, and delay our degeneration and death. 'An extraordinary account of groundbreaking modern science... The book abounds with interesting and important ideas.' Mark Ridley, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford

Life Ascending

The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution
Author: Nick Lane
Publisher: Profile Books
ISBN: 1847652220
Category: Science
Page: 469
View: 9987
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Winner of the 2010 Royal Society Prize for science books Powerful new research methods are providing fresh and vivid insights into the makeup of life. Comparing gene sequences, examining the atomic structure of proteins and looking into the geochemistry of rocks have all helped to explain creation and evolution in more detail than ever before. Nick Lane uses the full extent of this new knowledge to describe the ten greatest inventions of life, based on their historical impact, role in living organisms today and relevance to current controversies. DNA, sex, sight and consciousnesses are just four examples. Lane also explains how these findings have come about, and the extent to which they can be relied upon. The result is a gripping and lucid account of the ingenuity of nature, and a book which is essential reading for anyone who has ever questioned the science behind the glories of everyday life.

The Emerald Planet

How plants changed Earth's history
Author: David Beerling
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0192529781
Category: Science
Page: 416
View: 6212
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Plants have profoundly moulded the Earth's climate and the evolutionary trajectory of life. Far from being 'silent witnesses to the passage of time', plants are dynamic components of our world, shaping the environment throughout history as much as that environment has shaped them. In The Emerald Planet, David Beerling puts plants centre stage, revealing the crucial role they have played in driving global changes in the environment, in recording hidden facets of Earth's history, and in helping us to predict its future. His account draws together evidence from fossil plants, from experiments with their living counterparts, and from computer models of the 'Earth System', to illuminate the history of our planet and its biodiversity. This new approach reveals how plummeting carbon dioxide levels removed a barrier to the evolution of the leaf; how plants played a starring role in pushing oxygen levels upwards, allowing spectacular giant insects to thrive in the Carboniferous; and it strengthens fascinating and contentious fossil evidence for an ancient hole in the ozone layer. Along the way, Beerling introduces a lively cast of pioneering scientists from Victorian times onwards whose discoveries provided the crucial background to these and the other puzzles. This understanding of our planet's past sheds a sobering light on our own climate-changing activities, and offers clues to what our climatic and ecological futures might look like. There could be no more important time to take a close look at plants, and to understand the history of the world through the stories they tell. Oxford Landmark Science books are 'must-read' classics of modern science writing which have crystallized big ideas, and shaped the way we think.

Oxygen

A Four Billion Year History
Author: Donald E. Canfield
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 1400849888
Category: Science
Page: 216
View: 8004
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The air we breathe is twenty-one percent oxygen, an amount higher than on any other known world. While we may take our air for granted, Earth was not always an oxygenated planet. How did it become this way? Donald Canfield—one of the world's leading authorities on geochemistry, earth history, and the early oceans—covers this vast history, emphasizing its relationship to the evolution of life and the evolving chemistry of the Earth. Canfield guides readers through the various lines of scientific evidence, considers some of the wrong turns and dead ends along the way, and highlights the scientists and researchers who have made key discoveries in the field. Showing how Earth’s atmosphere developed over time, Oxygen takes readers on a remarkable journey through the history of the oxygenation of our planet. Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.

The Vital Question

Why Is Life the Way It Is?
Author: Nick Lane
Publisher: N.A
ISBN: 9781781250372
Category: Evolution
Page: 352
View: 4659
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Why is life the way it is? Bacteria evolved into complex life just once in four billion years of life on earth-and all complex life shares many strange properties, from sex to ageing and death. If life evolved on other planets, would it be the same or completely different?In The Vital Question, Nick Lane radically reframes evolutionary history, putting forward a cogent solution to conundrums that have troubled scientists for decades. The answer, he argues, lies in energy: how all life on Earth lives off a voltage with the strength of a bolt of lightning. In unravelling these scientific enigmas, making sense of life's quirks, Lane's explanation provides a solution to life's vital questions: why are we as we are, and why are we here at all?This is ground-breaking science in an accessible form, in the tradition of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species, Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, and Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel.

Eating the Sun

How Plants Power the Planet
Author: Oliver Morton
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 0007163657
Category: Science
Page: 480
View: 8335
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Wherever there is greenery, photosynthesis is working to make oxygen, release energy, and create living matter from the raw material of sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. Without photosynthesis, there would be an empty world, an empty sky, and a sun that does nothing more than warm the rocks and reflect off the sea. Eating the Sun is the story of a world in crisis; an appreciation of the importance of plants; a history of the earth and the feuds and fantasies of warring scientists; a celebration of how the smallest things, enzymes and pigments, influence the largest things, the oceans, the rainforests, and the fossil fuel economy. Oliver Morton offers a fascinating, lively, profound look at nature's greatest miracle and sounds a much-needed call to arms—illuminating a potential crisis of climatic chaos and explaining how we can change our situation, for better or for worse.

Life's Ratchet

How Molecular Machines Extract Order from Chaos
Author: Peter M. Hoffmann
Publisher: Basic Books
ISBN: 0465022537
Category: Science
Page: 278
View: 3936
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A physicist describes how life emerges from the random motion of atoms through sophisticated cellular machinery and describes the long quest to determine the true nature of life from ancient Greece to the study of modern nanotechnology. 20,000 first printing.

The Life of a Leaf


Author: Steven Vogel
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226859398
Category: Nature
Page: 303
View: 1605
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In its essence, science is a way of looking at and thinking about the world. In The Life of a Leaf, Steven Vogel illuminates this approach, using the humble leaf as a model. Whether plant or person, every organism must contend with its immediate physical environment, a world that both limits what organisms can do and offers innumerable opportunities for evolving fascinating ways of challenging those limits. Here, Vogel explains these interactions, examining through the example of the leaf the extraordinary designs that enable life to adapt to its physical world. In Vogel’s account, the leaf serves as a biological everyman, an ordinary and ubiquitous living thing that nonetheless speaks volumes about our environment as well as its own. Thus in exploring the leaf’s world, Vogel simultaneously explores our own. A companion website with demonstrations and teaching tools can be found here: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/sites/vogel/index.html

Caesar's Last Breath

Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us
Author: Sam Kean
Publisher: Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316381632
Category: Science
Page: 384
View: 810
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The Guardian's Best Science Book of 2017 One of Science News's Favorite Science Books of 2017 The fascinating science and history of the air we breathe It's invisible. It's ever-present. Without it, you would die in minutes. And it has an epic story to tell. In Caesar's Last Breath, New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean takes us on a journey through the periodic table, around the globe, and across time to tell the story of the air we breathe, which, it turns out, is also the story of earth and our existence on it. With every breath, you literally inhale the history of the world. On the ides of March, 44 BC, Julius Caesar died of stab wounds on the Senate floor, but the story of his last breath is still unfolding; in fact, you're probably inhaling some of it now. Of the sextillions of molecules entering or leaving your lungs at this moment, some might well bear traces of Cleopatra's perfumes, German mustard gas, particles exhaled by dinosaurs or emitted by atomic bombs, even remnants of stardust from the universe's creation. Tracing the origins and ingredients of our atmosphere, Kean reveals how the alchemy of air reshaped our continents, steered human progress, powered revolutions, and continues to influence everything we do. Along the way, we'll swim with radioactive pigs, witness the most important chemical reactions humans have discovered, and join the crowd at the Moulin Rouge for some of the crudest performance art of all time. Lively, witty, and filled with the astounding science of ordinary life, Caesar's Last Breath illuminates the science stories swirling around us every second.

Venomous

How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry
Author: Christie Wilcox
Publisher: Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 0374712212
Category: Science
Page: 256
View: 397
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A thrilling tale of encounters with nature’s masters of biochemistry From the coasts of Indonesia to the rainforests of Peru, venomous animals are everywhere—and often lurking out of sight. Humans have feared them for centuries, long considering them the assassins and pariahs of the natural world. Now, in Venomous, the biologist Christie Wilcox investigates and illuminates the animals of our nightmares, arguing that they hold the keys to a deeper understanding of evolution, adaptation, and immunity. She reveals just how venoms function and what they do to the human body. With Wilcox as our guide, we encounter a jellyfish with tentacles covered in stinging cells that can kill humans in minutes; a two-inch caterpillar with toxic bristles that trigger hemorrhaging; and a stunning blue-ringed octopus capable of inducing total paralysis. How do these animals go about their deadly work? How did they develop such intricate, potent toxins? Wilcox takes us around the world and down to the cellular level to find out. Throughout her journey, Wilcox meets the intrepid scientists who risk their lives studying these lethal beasts, as well as “self-immunizers” who deliberately expose themselves to snakebites. Along the way, she puts her own life on the line, narrowly avoiding being envenomated herself. Drawing on her own research, Wilcox explains how venom scientists are untangling the mechanisms of some of our most devastating diseases, and reports on pharmacologists who are already exploiting venoms to produce lifesaving drugs. We discover that venomous creatures are in fact keystone species that play crucial roles in their ecosystems and ours—and for this alone, they ought to be protected and appreciated. Thrilling and surprising at every turn, Venomous will change everything you thought you knew about the planet’s most dangerous animals.

Chasing the Molecule

Discovering the Building Blocks of Life
Author: John Buckingham
Publisher: History PressLtd
ISBN: 9780750933469
Category: Science
Page: 262
View: 7719
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Educationalists are always wondering how to make science more interesting. I wonder if they might take a leaf out of this book and teach not science but the history of science.' Daily Mail

H2O

A Biography of Water
Author: Philip Ball
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
ISBN: 1780227493
Category: Science
Page: 400
View: 8413
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The brilliantly told and gripping story of the most familiar - yet, amazingly, still poorly understood - substance in the universe: Water. The extent to which water remains a scientific mystery is extraordinary, despite its prevalence and central importance on Earth. Whether one considers its role in biology, its place in the physical world (where it refuses to obey the usual rules of liquids) or its deceptively simple structure, there is still no complete answer to the question: what is water? Philip Ball's book explains what, exactly, we do and do not know about the strange character of this most essential and ubiquitous of substances. H20 begins by transporting its readers back to the Big Bang and the formation of galaxies to witness the birth of water's constituent elements: hydrogen and oxygen. It then explains how the primeval oceans were formed four billion years ago; where water is to be found on other planets; why ice floats when most solids sink; why, despite being highly corrosive, water is good for us; why there are at least fifteen kinds of ice and perhaps two kinds of liquid water; how scientists have consistently misunderstood water for centuries; and why wars have been waged over it. Philip Ball's gloriously offbeat and intelligent book conducts us on a journey through the history of science, folklore, the wilder scientific fringes, cutting-edge physics, biology and ecology, to give a fascinating new perspective on life and the substance that sustains it. After reading this book, drinking a glass of water will never be the same again.

Molecular Biology of the Cell


Author: Bruce Alberts
Publisher: Garland Science
ISBN: 1317563743
Category: Science
Page: 1464
View: 1723
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As the amount of information in biology expands dramatically, it becomes increasingly important for textbooks to distill the vast amount of scientific knowledge into concise principles and enduring concepts.As with previous editions, Molecular Biology of the Cell, Sixth Edition accomplishes this goal with clear writing and beautiful illustrations. The Sixth Edition has been extensively revised and updated with the latest research in the field of cell biology, and it provides an exceptional framework for teaching and learning. The entire illustration program has been greatly enhanced.Protein structures better illustrate structure–function relationships, icons are simpler and more consistent within and between chapters, and micrographs have been refreshed and updated with newer, clearer, or better images. As a new feature, each chapter now contains intriguing openended questions highlighting “What We Don’t Know,” introducing students to challenging areas of future research. Updated end-of-chapter problems reflect new research discussed in the text, and these problems have been expanded to all chapters by adding questions on developmental biology, tissues and stem cells, pathogens, and the immune system.

The Story of Earth

The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to Living Planet
Author: Robert M. Hazen
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 0143123645
Category: Science
Page: 320
View: 8108
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The author of the best-selling Science Matters outlines a radical new approach to geologic history that advances controversial theories that the Earth evolved and that life evolved from minerals, assessing supportive findings while explaining the impact of human actions.

The Science of Consequences

How They Affect Genes, Change the Brain, and Impact Our World
Author: Susan M. Schneider
Publisher: Prometheus Books
ISBN: 161614663X
Category: Science
Page: 383
View: 9643
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Children quickly learn that actions have consequences. This elementary lesson is repeated again and again throughout adulthood as we adjust our behaviors according to the reactions they produce in the social and natural environment. Now, an internationally recognized biopsychologist, tells the story of how something so deceptively simple can help make sense of so much. Despite their variety, consequences appear to follow a common set of scientific principles and share some similar effects in the brain (specifically, in the so-called pleasure centers). Based on these principles, Schneider and other scientists have been able to create mathematical models of certain behaviors. And they have demonstrated that learning from consequences predictably activates genes and restructures the neural configuration of the brain--in humans as well as in animals. Consequences are an integral part of the nature-and-nurture system. The knowledge gained from this newly expanded science has many applications, as the author shows in examples from the home, the hospital, the classroom, and the boardroom. The science of consequences helps fight prejudice, free addicts of their destructive habits, and treat depression. It enriches the lives of pets and zoo animals. It also sheds light on our biggest societal challenges, where we must choose between short-term and long-term consequences. Featuring illustrative human, pet, and wild-animal anecdotes, this book is a unique and fascinating introduction to a science that is truly epic in scope. From the Trade Paperback edition.

The Universe Within

The Deep History of the Human Body
Author: Neil Shubin
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 0307907864
Category: Science
Page: 240
View: 5011
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From one of our finest and most popular science writers, the best-selling author of Your Inner Fish, comes the answer to a scientific mystery story as big as the world itself: How have astronomical events that took place millions of years ago created the unique qualities of the human species? In his last book, Neil Shubin delved into the amazing connections between human anatomy—our hands, our jaws—and the structures in the fish that first took over land 375 million years ago. Now, with his trademark clarity and exuberance, he takes an even more expansive approach to the question of why we are the way we are. Starting once again with fossils, Shubin turns his gaze skyward. He shows how the entirety of the universe's 14-billion-year history can be seen in our bodies. From our very molecular composition (a result of stellar events at the origin of our solar system), he makes clear, through the working of our eyes, how the evolution of the cosmos has had profound effects on the development of human life on earth. From the Hardcover edition.

Molecules That Amaze Us


Author: Paul May,Simon Cotton
Publisher: CRC Press
ISBN: 1466589612
Category: Science
Page: 742
View: 3319
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"This new book is by two knowledgeable and expert popularizers of chemistry and deals exclusively with molecules and compounds rather than with the simpler atoms and elements. It is based on the very successful ‘Molecule of the Month’ website that was begun by Paul May fifteen years ago and to which his co-author Simon Cotton has been a frequent contributor. ... The authors ... strike an excellent balance between introducing the novice to the world of molecules while also keeping the expert chemist interested. ... I highly recommend this book to all readers. It will vastly expand your knowledge and horizons of chemistry and the human ingenuity that surrounds it." —From the Foreword by Dr. Eric Scerri, UCLA, Los Angeles, website: www.ericscerri.com, Author of ‘The Periodic Table, Its Story and Its Significance’ and several other books on the elements and the periodic table. The world is composed of molecules. Some are synthetic while many others are products of nature. Molecules That Amaze Us presents the stories behind many of the most famous and infamous molecules that make up our modern world. Examples include the molecule responsible for the spicy heat in chilies (capsaicin), the world’s first synthetic painkiller (aspirin), the pigment responsible for the color of autumn leaves (carotene), the explosive in dynamite (nitroglycerine), the antimalarial drug (quinine), the drug known as "speed" (methamphetamine), and many others. Other molecules discussed include caffeine, adrenaline, cholesterol, cocaine, digitalis, dopamine, glucose, insulin, methane, nicotine, oxytocin, penicillin, carbon dioxide, limonene, and testosterone. In all, the book includes 67 sections, each describing a different molecule, what it does, how it is made, and why it is so interesting. Written by experts in the field, the book is accessible and easy to read. It includes amusing anecdotes, historical curiosities, and entertaining facts about each molecule, thereby balancing educational content with entertainment. The book is heavily illustrated with relevant photographs, images, and cartoons—the aim being both to educate and entertain.

A New History of Life

The Radical New Discoveries about the Origins and Evolution of Life on Earth
Author: Peter Ward,Joe Kirschvink
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
ISBN: 1608199088
Category: Science
Page: 400
View: 1986
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Charles Darwin's theories, first published more than 150 years ago, form the backbone of how we understand the history of the Earth. In reality, the currently accepted history of life on Earth is so flawed, so out of date, that it's past time we need a 'New History of Life.' In their latest book, Joe Kirschvink and Peter Ward will show that many of our most cherished beliefs about the evolution of life are wrong. Gathering and analyzing years of discoveries and research not yet widely known to the public, A New History of Life proposes a different origin of species than the one Darwin proposed, one which includes eight-foot-long centipedes, a frozen "snowball Earth†?, and the seeds for life originating on Mars. Drawing on their years of experience in paleontology, biology, chemistry, and astrobiology, experts Ward and Kirschvink paint a picture of the origins life on Earth that are at once too fabulous to imagine and too familiar to dismiss--and looking forward, A New History of Life brilliantly assembles insights from some of the latest scientific research to understand how life on Earth can and might evolve far into the future.

The Fifth Miracle

The Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life
Author: Paul Davies
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 1439126828
Category: Science
Page: 304
View: 9762
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ARE WE ALONE IN THE UNIVERSE? In his latest far-reaching book, The Fifth Miracle, internationally acclaimed physicist and writer Paul Davies confronts one of science's great outstanding mysteries -- the origin of life. Three and a half billion years ago, Mars resembled Earth. It was warm and wet and could have supported primitive organisms. If life once existed on Mars, might it have originated there and traveled to Earth inside meteorites blasted into space by cosmic impacts? Davies builds on the latest scientific discoveries and theories to address the larger question: What, exactly, is life? Is it the inevitable by-product of physical laws, as many scientists maintain, or an almost miraculous accident? Are we alone in the universe, or will life emerge on all Earth-like planets? And if there is life elsewhere in the universe, is it preordained to evolve toward greater complexity and intelligence? On the answers to these deep questions hinges the ultimate purpose of mankind -- who we are and what our place might be in the unfolding drama of the cosmos.