• Life on the Edge

  • The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology
  • By: Jim Al-Khalili, Johnjoe McFadden
  • Narrated by: Pete Cross
  • Length: 12 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 10-15-15
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Random House AudioBooks
  • 4 out of 5 stars 4.3 (16 ratings)

Regular price: $25.58

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Publisher's Summary

Life is the most extraordinary phenomenon in the known universe; but how does it work? Even in this age of cloning and synthetic biology, the remarkable truth remains: nobody has ever made anything living entirely out of dead material. Life remains the only way to make life. Are we missing a vital ingredient in its creation?
Like Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, which provided a new perspective on how evolution works, Life on the Edge alters our understanding of life's dynamics. Bringing together firsthand experience of science at the cutting edge with unparalleled gifts of exposition and explanation, Jim Al-Khalili and Johnjoe Macfadden reveal the hitherto missing ingredient to be quantum mechanics and the strange phenomena that lie at the heart of this most mysterious of sciences.
Drawing on recent groundbreaking experiments around the world, they show how photosynthesis relies on subatomic particles existing in many places at once while inside enzymes, those workhorses of life that make every molecule within our cells, particles vanish from one point in space and instantly materialize in another.
Each chapter in Life on the Edge opens with an engaging example that illustrates one of life’s puzzles - How do migrating birds know where to go? How do we really smell the scent of a rose? How do our genes manage to copy themselves with such precision? - and then reveals how quantum mechanics delivers its answer.
Guiding the reader through the maze of rapidly unfolding discovery, Al-Khalili and McFadden communicate vividly the excitement of this explosive new field of quantum biology, with its potentially revolutionary applications, and offer insights into the biggest puzzle of all: what is life? As they brilliantly demonstrate here, life lives on the quantum edge.
©2015 Jim Al-Khalili (P)2015 Random House AudioBooks
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Ben on 10-25-17

revolutionizing ideas

revolutionizing ideas in the junction of many disciplines. very well written for a complex science book.

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5 out of 5 stars
By Jacqueline B on 12-22-16

Simply fascinating science

What made the experience of listening to Life on the Edge the most enjoyable?

As this is a review of an audio book, the prize has to go to the narrator, Pete Cross. His is one of the most pleasant reading voices I have yet listened to - and important for a scientific work. He engages the listener with his smooth reading style, very good voice tone and timbre and has taken the trouble to pronounce scientific words clearly. His diction and pronunciation cannot be faulted and he makes the contents compelling and interesting. In addition, the book itself is an extraordinary read and I have subsequently purchased the paperback as well for annotation purposes.

Any additional comments?

This is a compelling story of how quantum physics has expanded into the field of biology. The authors have delineated the process of how it all happened by quoting studies and experiments and have made the concepts very clear for a science-loving non-scientist. Famous physicists such as Max Planck, Erwin Schrödinger and Richard Feynman ('What I cannot create, I do not understand') are given their place in history while modern experimental findings tell of mankind's further adventures into this minuscule world. Thermodynamics, tunnelling and entanglement are explained with clear examples, along with the mysterious way in which measurement affects behaviour in the quantum world, not a new concept, but puts it into context. We have so much to learn.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By S. Churchill on 07-14-17

I wish Jim had narrated this book.

A very interesting book but sometimes a little hard to follow, but that is the nature of the subject.

I really wish it had been narrated by Jim and surprised it was not considering his Radio 4 and BBC TV work. I would preferred to hear his calm, traditional English voice than to the colonial one, which often mangled British names and places.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Ben on 10-03-16

Great Book

Would you listen to Life on the Edge again? Why?

Yes, its needed there are some great ideas that need re listening (in my case) to fully take in the absolute content of the book.

What did you like best about this story?

The Journey of the butterfly from America to Mexico

Which character – as performed by Pete Cross – was your favourite?

His Narration was very good

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By simon on 05-17-17


this book simply explains the quantum nature of life in the context of biological sciences and quantum mechanics. very well written and emotionally compelling.

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1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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