For almost four billion years, microbes had the primordial oceans all to themselves. The stewards of Earth, these organisms transformed the chemistry of our planet to make it habitable for plants, animals, and us. Life's Engines takes listeners deep into the microscopic world to explore how these marvelous creatures made life on Earth possible - and how human life today would cease to exist without them.
Paul Falkowski looks "under the hood" of microbes to find the engines of life, the actual working parts that do the biochemical heavy lifting for every living organism on Earth. With insight and humor, he explains how these miniature engines are built - and how they have been appropriated by and assembled like Lego sets within every creature that walks, swims, or flies. Falkowski shows how evolution works to maintain this core machinery of life, and how we and other animals are veritable conglomerations of microbes.
A vibrantly entertaining audiobook about the microbes that support our very existence, Life's Engines will inspire wonder about these elegantly complex nanomachines that have driven life since its origin. It also issues a timely warning about the dangers of tinkering with that machinery to make it more "efficient" at meeting the ever-growing demands of humans in the coming century.
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Best Science Book Ever Written. Period.
I am only 2/3 of the way through this book. However, the one and only review for this book has compelled me to write a review before I finish. The only Audible review was by someone who couldn't read more than 30 minutes. From their short sampling, they concluded that Falkowski brought nothing new to the table. This book blew me away with the novelty and brilliance brought to every chapter. Falkowski provides new explanations for why endosymbiosis occurred, why animals evolved, why nanomachines had to evolve basic machinery and then build bodies of animals and plants (consortia), etc.
Until reading Life's engines, my favorite books in order were:
Nick Lane's Life Ascending
Sean Carroll's (physicist) The Particle at the End of the Universe
Sean Carroll's (biologist) Endless Forms Most Beautiful Caleb Scharf's Gravity's Engines Max Tegmark's Our Mathematical Universe
Lucretius' On the Nature of Things
Without question, Falkowski's book has topped that list. It took me a very long time to get through much of this book. I stopped every few minutes to take notes that I can refer to later. This was necessary because I believe this book to be a seminal work on how the world operates. The depth of understanding Falkowski bestows upon his reader will help them understand their host planet on a fundamental level.
Do you want to understand your planet as one big organism? Then read this book. Every chapter is packed so tightly with an abundance of information about microbes: how they are connected to one another, to groups of microbes, to plants and animals (including humans), and to the earth at large.
In this book you will learn the langue microbes use to communicate. Think humans are the most intelligent species on the planet? Think again. You will also learn the wonderful story of how mitochondria evolved. Lest you think you have heard it before (ie., as Nick Lane or Lynn Margulis tell it), you will undoubted hear a new tale. Falkowski's idea of mitochondria as a "nutrient trap" and not a workhorse is nothing short of revolutionary. Sheer brilliance!
I plan to now scour the intent for all of his talks. I want to know everything he is willing to share. LOVE HIM!
If you like evolution, biochem, microbes, understanding you place in evolution, or are just a lover of really good science, this book is for you!
There are so many novel ideas in the book. Each one moved me deeply.
Microbes are incredibly interesting!!!!