How Life Works: A User’s Guide to the New Biology - Philip Ball
A cutting-edge new vision of biology that will revise our concept of what life itself is, how to enhance it, and what possibilities it offers.
Biology is undergoing a quiet but profound transformation. Several aspects of the standard picture of how life works—the idea of the genome as a blueprint, of genes as instructions for building an organism, of proteins as precisely tailored molecular machines, of cells as entities with fixed identities, and more—have been exposed as incomplete, misleading, or wrong.
In How Life Works, Philip Ball explores the new biology, revealing life to be a far richer, more ingenious affair than we had guessed. Ball explains that there is no unique place to look for an answer to this question: life is a system of many levels—genes, proteins, cells, tissues, and body modules such as the immune system and the nervous system—each with its own rules and principles. How Life Works explains how these levels operate, interface, and work together (most of the time).
With this knowledge come new possibilities. Today we can redesign and reconfigure living systems, tissues, and organisms. We can reprogram cells, for instance, to carry out new tasks and grow into structures not seen in the natural world. As we discover the conditions that dictate the forms into which cells organize themselves, our ability to guide and select the outcomes becomes ever more extraordinary. Some researchers believe that ultimately we will be able to regenerate limbs and organs, and perhaps even create new life forms that evolution has never imagined.
Incorporating the latest research and insights, How Life Works is a sweeping journey into this new frontier of the life sciences, a realm that will reshape our understanding of life as we know it.