Mitochondria are tiny structures located inside our cells that carry out the essential task of producing energy for the cell. They are found in all complex living things, and in that sense, they are fundamental for driving complex life on the planet. But there is much more to them than that. Mitochondria have their own DNA, with their own small collection of genes, separate from those in the cell nucleus. It is thought that they were once bacteria living independent lives. Their enslavement within the larger cell was a turning point in the evolution of life, enabling the development of complex organisms and, closely related, the origin of two sexes. Unlike the DNA in the nucleus, mitochondrial DNA is passed down exclusively (or almost exclusively) via the female line. That's why it has been used by some researchers to trace human ancestry daughter-to-mother, to 'Mitochondrial Eve'. Mitochondria give us important information about our evolutionary history. And that's not all. Mitochondrial genes mutate much faster than those in the nucleus because of the free radicals produced in their energy-generating role. This high mutation rate lies behind our ageing and certain congenital diseases. The latest research suggests that mitochondria play a key role in degenerative diseases such as cancer, through their involvement in precipitating cell suicide. Mitochondria, then, are pivotal in power, sex, and suicide. In this fascinating and thought-provoking book, Nick Lane brings together the latest research findings in this exciting field to show how our growing understanding of mitochondria is shedding light on how complex life evolved, why sex arose (why don't we just bud?), and why we age and die. This understanding is of fundamental importance, both in understanding how we and all other complex life came to be, but also in order to be able to control our own illnesses, and delay our degeneration and death. Oxford Landmark Science books are 'must-read' classics of modern science writing which have crystallized big ideas, and shaped the way we think.
A New Solution to the Problem of Creation and Evolution
Author: Stephen H. Webb
Publisher: Wipf and Stock Publishers
What would biology look like if it took the problem of natural evil seriously? This book argues that biological descriptions of evolution are inherently moral, just as the biblical story of creation has biological implications. A complete account of evolution will therefore require theological input. The Dome of Eden does not try to harmonize evolution and creation. Harmonizers typically begin with Darwinism and then try to add just enough religion to make evolution more palatable, or they begin with Genesis and pry open the creation account just wide enough to let in a little bit of evolution. By contrast, Stephen Webb provides a theory of how evolution and theology fit together, and he argues that this kind of theory is required by the internal demands of both theology and biology. The Dome of Eden also develops a theological account of evolution that is distinct from the intelligent design movement. Webb shows how intelligent design properly discerns the inescapable dimension of purpose in nature but, like Darwinism itself, fails to make sense of the problem of natural evil. Finally, this book draws on the work of Karl Barth to advance a new reading of the Genesis narrative and the theology of Duns Scotus to provide the necessary metaphysical foundation for evolutionary thought.
The simple secret of high intensity training: get fitter, stronger and better toned in just a few minutes a day
Author: Dr Michael Mosley
Publisher: Short Books
Category: Health & Fitness
Just as Dr Michael Mosley’s Fast Diet – the original 5:2 – alerted the world to a healthy new way to lose weight, Fast Exercise turns conventional wisdom on its head when it comes to the workout Can you really get the benefits of exercise in just a few minutes a day? Michael Mosley and Peta Bee investigate the science behind a radically different approach to exercise – one that is incredibly time efficient. Research has shown the extraordinary impact that ultra-short bursts of HIT (high intensity training) can have, whatever your age or level of fitness. In Fast Exercise, Michael Mosley, a self-confessed sloth, teams up with super-fit health journalist Peta Bee to dispel common exercise myths. They offer practical advice and a range of workouts that take just a few minutes a day and can be done any time, anywhere. Fast Exercise is for everyone: those who don’t enjoy exercise but want to lose fat and stay healthy, those who love exercise and want to enhance their performance, and those who just want to understand the science behind it all.
Milton, Evil and Literary History addresses the ways in which we read literary history according to quite specific images of growth, development, progression, flourishing and succession. Goodness has always been aligned with a life of expansion, creation, production and fruition, while evil is associated with the inert, non-relational, static and stagnant. These associations have also underpinned a distinction between good and evil notions of capitalism, where good exchange enables agents to enhance their living potential and is contrasted with the evils of a capitalist system that circulates without any reference to life or spirit. Such images of a ghostly and technical economy divorced from animating origin are both central to Milton's theology and poetry and to the theories of literary history through which Milton is read. Regarded as a radical precursor to Romanticism, Milton's poetry supposedly requires the release of his radical spiritual content from the fetters of received orthodoxy. This literary and historical imagery of releasing the radical spirit of a text from the dead weight of received tradition is, this book argues, the dominant doxa of historicism and one which a counter-reading of Milton ought to question.
We are in the midst of a revolution. It is a scientific revolution built upon the tools of molecular biology, with which we probe and prod the living world in ways unimaginable a few decades ago. Need to track a bacterium at the root of a hospital outbreak? No problem: the offending germ's complete genetic profile can be obtained in 24 hours. We insert human DNA into E. coli bacteria to produce our insulin. It is natural to look at biotechnology in the 21st century with a mix of wonder and fear. But biotechnology is not as 'unnatural' as one might think. All living organisms use the same molecular processes to replicate their genetic material and the same basic code to 'read' their genes. The similarities can be seen in their DNA. Here, John Archibald shows how evolution has been 'plugging-and-playing' with the subcellular components of life from the very beginning and continues to do so today. For evidence, we need look no further than the inner workings of our own cells. Molecular biology has allowed us to gaze back more than three billion years, revealing the microbial mergers and acquisitions that underpin the development of complex life. One Plus One Equals One tells the story of how we have come to this realization and its implications.
“Original and awe-inspiring . . . an exhilarating tour of some of the most profound and important ideas in biology.”—New Scientist Where does DNA come from? What is consciousness? How did the eye evolve? Drawing on a treasure trove of new scientific knowledge, Nick Lane expertly reconstructs evolution’s history by describing its ten greatest inventions—from sex and warmth to death—resulting in a stunning account of nature’s ingenuity.
This book considers social scientific topics such as identity, community, sexual difference, self, and ecology from a microbial perspective. Harnessing research and evidence from earth systems science and microbiology, and particularly focusing on symbiosis and symbiogenesis, the book argues for the development of a microontology of life.