The Equations of Life by Charles S. Cockell
TITLE: The Equations of Life: The Hidden Rules Shaping Evolution
AUTHOR: Charles S. Cockell
PUBLICATION DATE: 2019
"A groundbreaking new view on the theory of evolution, arguing that life develops in predictable ways.
We are all familiar with the popular idea of strange alien life wildly different from life on earth inhabiting other planets. Maybe it's made of silicon! Maybe it has wheels! Or maybe it doesn't. In The Equations of Life, biologist Charles S. Cockell makes the forceful argument that the laws of physics narrowly constrain how life can evolve, making evolution's outcomes predictable. If we were to find on a distant planet something very much like a lady bug eating something like an aphid, we shouldn't be surprised. The forms of life are guided by a limited set of rules, and as a result, there is a narrow set of solutions to the challenges of existence.
A remarkable scientific contribution breathing new life into Darwin's theory of evolution, The Equations of Life makes a radical argument about what life can--and can't--be."
In The Equations of Life, Cockell demonstrates that biology is dependent on, and thus constrained by, physics. The book starts off examining the social life of ants, moves on to studying how all the basic anatomy units and habits of a ladybug are constructed in accordance with the laws of physics, to the movement of moles through soil, birds through the air, and why animals don't have wheels or propellers. Cockell also examines why life is cellular, the various properties of cells and their particular building blocks (lipid membranes, DNA/RNA, amino acids, respiration, enzymatic reactions, the molecules and also atoms of life), why water is the solvent for life rather than something else (benzene? ammonia?), and if life can be based on something other than carbon. A few equations are thrown in to demonstrate a concept but there is nothing difficult to understand in this book. A fascinating perspective on evolution and physics written in an engaging manner.
PS: I love this cover. All those delicious equations, molecular structures and mathematical formulae etc.