生命之源 | The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life by Nick Lane

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2019年11月9日08:16:42生命之源 | The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life by Nick Lane已关闭评论 280 次浏览
生命之源 | The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life by Nick Lane

The Earth teems with life: in its oceans, forests, skies and cities. Yet there’s a black hole at the heart of biology. We do not know why complex life is the way it is, or, for that matter, how life first began. In The Vital Question, award-winning author and biochemist Nick Lane radically reframes evolutionary history, putting forward a solution to conundrums that have puzzled generations of scientists.

For two and a half billion years, from the very origins of life, single-celled organisms such as bacteria evolved without changing their basic form. Then, on just one occasion in four billion years, they made the jump to complexity. All complex life, from mushrooms to man, shares puzzling features, such as sex, which are unknown in bacteria. How and why did this radical transformation happen?

The answer, Lane argues, lies in energy: all life on Earth lives off a voltage with the strength of a lightning bolt. Building on the pillars of evolutionary theory, Lane’s hypothesis draws on cutting-edge research into the link between energy and cell biology, in order to deliver a compelling account of evolution from the very origins of life to the emergence of multicellular organisms, while offering deep insights into our own lives and deaths.

Both rigorous and enchanting, The Vital Question provides a solution to life’s vital question: why are we as we are, and indeed, why are we here at all?

从几万英尺的高空到深不见底的深海海沟,我们的地球到处都充斥着生命。然而,生物学的核心却是一个亘古难解的问题:复杂生命哪里来?或者,换句话说,生命最初又是如何开始的。大师级生化学家尼克连恩则在本书中针对此问题提出解答。

第一个原始生命诞生之后,长达二十五亿年的时光,这些单细胞生物基本上并无多大改变,仍维持原核型态。然而,在这生命演化的四十亿年时光里,仅仅一次,生命出现了跳跃性的成长,发展出前所未见的复杂性。在这之后所有的复杂多细胞生物,从香菇到人类,不仅出现令人费解、不同于原始细菌的生物特征,如有性生殖、细胞凋零等,更甚,若是在显微镜下检视这两者的细胞,除了香菇有细胞壁之外,其他真核细胞的特征皆一应俱全,无法轻易分辨两者。为什么只有真核细胞可以有这么多样的演化?以及,为什么这样激烈的演化是如何、又为何发生的呢?

尼克连恩认为答案在于“能量”:地球上所有生命的代谢与存活皆需要耗费相当高能的能量。连恩以进化论为基础,结合了前沿研究当中能量转换与细胞生物学的关系,从中讨论生命的起源到多细胞生物的出现,并提供一个严谨的论证,同时加深我们对于“活着”与“死亡”在生物意义上的见解。

既严谨又丰富,本书对生命起源的问题提供了一个解答,这个解答也可以帮助我们思索,在地球上出现的生命形式,到底是一个偶然,还是宇宙定律下的必然?

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