Life Ascending - The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution


How much do I want to read more? 6/10

I like the idea of the book. To observe life's mystery from a scientific point of view.
But it's boring to read, in a way only scientists can read and write such boring things.


INTRODUCTION - The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution

It is a natural laboratory that belittles the human theatre.
It is a joy to be alive at this time, when we know so much, and yet can still look forward to so much more.

THE ORIGIN OF LIFE - From Out the Turning Globe

The world was heaving with bacteria then. Bacteria dominated our planet for another 2,500 million years before the first truly complex organisms appeared in the fossil record. And some say they still do, for the gloss of plants and animals doesn’t match the bacteria for biomass.

Miller electrified a simple mixture of gases, and the basic building blocks of life all congealed out of the mix.
It is certainly true that natural selection can’t work without some sort of replicator.

If two molecules don’t want to react together, then they won’t be easily persuaded; if they do want to react they will, even if it takes some time to overcome their shyness.

All this energy, all our lives, boils down to the juxtaposition of two molecules totally out of equilibrium with each other, hydrogen and oxygen: two opposing bodies that conjoin in blissful molecular union, with a copious discharge of energy, leaving nothing but a small, hot puddle of water.

The idea that replicators like RNA were the first figments of life, predating any thermodynamic driving force, is, in Mike Russell’s words, ‘like removing the engine from an automobile and expecting the regulating computer to do the driving.’ But if not from a soup, where did the engine come from?
Little happened for a few years. Then in 1977, eight years after Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, the US naval submersible Alvin descended to the rift. as a surprise, the sheer exuberance of life in the bible-black depths of the rift came as a genuine shock. Here were giant tubeworms. Population densities in the deep-sea vents rival a rainforest or a coral reef, despite being powered by the exhalations of the vents rather than the sun.