Life's Edge: the Search for What It Means to Be Alive

Front Cover
Pan Macmillan, Mar 18, 2021 - Life (Biology) - 347 pages
3 Reviews
Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified
We all assume we know what life is, but the more scientists learn about the living world - from protocells to brains, from zygotes to pandemic viruses - the harder they find it to define exactly what it is and what it isn't.What is life? In this riveting and thought-provoking book, Carl Zimmer explores the question by journeying to the edges of life in every direction, from viruses to computer intelligence, from its origins on earth to the search for extra-terrestrial life and the strange experiments that have attempted to recreate life from scratch in the lab. The question is not only a scientific issue; it hangs over some of society's most charged conflicts - whether a fertilized egg is a living person, for example, and when we ought to declare a person legally dead.Whether he is handling pythons or searching for hibernating bats, Zimmer investigates life in its most unfamiliar forms. He tries his own hand at evolving life in a test tube with unnerving results, explores our cultural obsession with Dr. Frankestein's monster and how Coleridge came to believe the whole universe was alive. The result is an entirely gripping exploration of one of the most crucial questions of all: the meaning of life.

What people are saying - Write a review

Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - SChant - LibraryThing

Well, he's a better talker than writer. Heard him on a science programme on the radio and he communicated beautifully, but this book just doesn't work for me. It's really choppy, too many anecdotes ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - rivkat - LibraryThing

Interesting tour of scientific theories of life and what the boundary conditions are. Crystals “grow” but we’re pretty sure they’re not alive, but what are the actual requirements for life? For ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (2021)

Carl Zimmer writes the Matter column for the New York Times and has frequently contributed to the Atlantic, National Geographic, Time, and Scientific American. He has won the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Science Journalism Award three times, among a host of other awards and fellowships. He teaches science writing at Yale, has been a guest on NPR's RadioLab, Science Friday, and Fresh Air, and maintains an international speaking schedule. He is the author of thirteen books about science, including She Has Her Mother's Laugh, which was shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize in 2018.

Bibliographic information