What is life? Humans have been asking this question for thousands of years. But as technology has advanced and our understanding of biology has deepened, the answer has evolved. For decades, scientists have been exploring the limits of nature by modifying and manipulating DNA, cells, and whole organisms to create new ones that could never have previously existed on their own. In Creation, science writer Adam Rutherford explains how we are now radically exceeding the boundaries of evolution and engineering entirely novel creatures - from goats that produce spider silk in their milk to bacteria that excrete diesel to genetic circuits that identify and destroy cancer cells.
As strange as some of these creations may sound, this new, synthetic biology is helping scientists develop radical solutions to some of the world’s most pressing crises - from food shortages to pandemic disease to climate change - and is paving the way for inventions once relegated to science fiction. Meanwhile, these advances are shedding new light on the biggest mystery of all - how did life begin? We know that every creature on Earth came from a single cell, sparked into existence four billion years ago.
As we come closer and closer to understanding the ancient root that connects all living things, we may finally be able to achieve a second genesis - the creation of new life where none existed before. Creation takes us on a journey four billion years in the making - from the very first cell to the ground-breaking biological inventions that will shape the future of our planet.
"Suddenly science is close to understanding the Indian rope trick by which life emerged from non-life four billion years ago. Adam Rutherford has written an engaging account of both the mystery and its impending resolution; he has also provided a fascinating glimpse of the impending birth of a new, synthetic biology." (Matt Ridley, author of Genome)
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The Goldilocks book on what is life