Life edited by John Brockman

Life: The Leading Edge of Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, Anthropology, and Environmental Science - John Brockman

John Brockman has collected 18 interviews, commissioned essays, and transcribed talks from the online science salon Edge.org that deal with biology, genetics, anthropology and environmental science.  The majority of the articles were well written, self-contained, covered interesting topics and will provide food for thought and extra research.  I found two of the articles to be bit vague, but the rest were interesting enough to make up for this defect.

The book includes articles/interviews/discussions by:


01~ Richard Dawkins - discusses evolution and the selfish gene hypothesis (2015);
02~ David Haig - discusses genomic imprinting and selective gene expression (2002);
03~ Robert Trivers - discusses deceit, self-deception and genomics (2004);
04~ Ernst Mayr - discusses what evolution is (2001);
05~ Steve Jones - general discussion/ interview on genetics over time (2000);
06~ Edward O. Wilson - discusses ants, cells and the building of super-organisms (2003);
07~ Freeman Dyson - discusses the analog or digital format of biological processes (2001);
08~ Freeman Dyson, J. Craig Venter, George Church, Dimitar Sasselov, Seth Lloyd, Robert Shapiro, and John Brockmann  - discuss the concept of life in an  Edge Special event (2007);
09~ Richard Dawkins and Craig Venter - sketch the frontiers of genomic research, discuss genes and digital information (2008);
10~ Armand Marie Leroi - discusses mutants, defects, gene expression, and genetic differences  (2005);
11~ Daniel Lieberman - discusses running and human evolution (2012);
12~ Svante Paabo - discusses mapping the neanderthal genome (2009);
13~ J. Craig Venter, Ray Kurzweil and Rodney Brooks - conversation on biocomputation, cancer, drug functioning, and new biotechnology (2005);
14~ Drew Endy - discusses engineering living organisms and the ethics of this (2008);
15~ Kary Mullis - discusses new immune treatments for various viruses (2010);
16~ Richard Plum - describes bird mating rituals and discusses the evolution of aesthetic beauty (2014);
17~ Robert Sapolsky - discusses behaviour manipulating parasites such as Toxoplasma (2009); and
18~ Stuart Kauffman - discusses autonomous agents and thermodynamics (2003).

I found this book to be an enjoyable and interesting reading experience, and not too complicated for my 90 year old grandmother who will be borrowing this book.  What these authors have to say is interesting enough that I'm going to see if they have written anything else.



Note:  Minus one star for misleading subtitle.  The majority of these articles are not recent and thus no longer the "leading edge".  It would have been useful for the editor (or authors) to insert a few paragraphs at the end of each older article to explain how things have changed (or not) since the articles were written.  This is especially relevant for the chapter on the Neanderthal genome mapping.