The Vital Question

I’m reading Nick Lane’s book of that title: it’s all cells and biochemistry and proton gradients. The book is quite philosophical in a hard-nosed science kind of way, because it is about explaining early life from first principles. He dares to suggest that we don’t know the answer to fundamental questions of biology. There is not one reference to Dawkins in it. He avoids discussion of genes, replication and information, preferring to focus on the energetics of the cell, thus grounding biology in chemistry and physics. Not the selfish gene but the energy-sucking cell: it could have been called The Greedy Cell.

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