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Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  3,813 ratings  ·  223 reviews
A renowned biochemist draws on cutting-edge scientific findings to construct the mosaic of life’s astounding history.

How did life invent itself? Where did DNA come from? How did consciousness develop? Powerful new research methods are providing vivid insights into the makeup of life. Comparing gene sequences, examining atomic structures of proteins, and looking into the ge
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published June 22nd 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company
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4.11  · 
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 ·  3,813 ratings  ·  223 reviews

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Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science

فى البدء كانت كلمة الرب الإله
خلقت حياه
الخلق منها اتعلموا

صمت بطعم الجهل
و كلام يحمل كل معانى الإستخفاف

أترضى أن يكون أبيك قردا أو ضفدع
هل رأيت يوما جرذا يتحول إلى أرنب

لا يا مولانا إنت عندك حق و كل العلماء الأجانب بيهروا فى المفيش

في خطاب أمام الأكاديمية البابوية للعلوم عام 1996، قال البابا يوحنا بولس الثاني: ان “العلم الجديد يؤدي إلى الإعتراف بأن نظرية التطور هي أكثر من مجرد نظرية. من اللافت حقا أنه تم قبول هذه النظرية تدريجيا من قبل باحثين في أعقاب سلسلة من الإكتشافات في مجالات
Feb 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: biology, non-fiction
I had a lot of fun reading this book up until the end, when I started to worry about the author's propensity towards exaggeration and speculation.
For anyone who wants to learn about cutting edge speculation on the origin of life, Eukaryotas, and sex, it's definitely worth a read!
Anyone allergic to new-age nonsense sociology, just skip the last 9th chapter.
Everyone should take the last chapter with a very large grain of salt, because it's full of speculation, overblown claims, and other lies.

1. T
Lois Bujold
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Lois by: spotted in list of other-books-by

Excellent pop science writing, as absorbing as a novel (I read it in two days). The author has a knack for compelling narrative flow that seems both natural, and accumulating to some sense of Getting Somewhere by the end, always very satisfying.

Lots of new things from recent (and less recent) research that I hadn't yet heard about, which was much of what I was hoping for from this book. It also gives, in passing along the way, a good sense of how science itself evolves. Wow has biology ever adva
Apr 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Biyoloji, mikrobiyoloji, biyokimya, popüler bilim kitaplarına ilgi duyanlar
Göz nasıl ortaya çıktı?
Cinsiyetler nasıl ve neden var?
Bazı canlılar neden sıcak, bazıları soğuk kanlı?
Neden cinsel ilişki var?
Kaslar nasıl çalışır?
DNA nasıl oluştu?

Gibi sıklıkla dile getirilen, bilimin açıklayamadığı düşünülen pek çok konu üzerine güncel tartışmalar hakkında muazzam bilgiler içeren bir kitap.

Bu kitapta benim de kafamda bugüne kadar soru işareti olan pek çok konunun cevaplarını buldum.
Skaitant šitą knygą man susidaro įspūdis, kad turiu lengvą disleksiją.

Ar tai dėl vertimo? Ar originalus tekstas irgi toks raišas? Ar knygos vertimas buvo pernelyg skubiai išleistas? Nenoriu badyti pirštais į vertėją ar kalbos redaktorių, ar leidyklą - niekad žmogus nežinai, kaip tokia situacija susiklostė - bet kaip būtų buvę nuostabu, jei šios knygos tekstą būtų peržiūrėjęs dar koks vienas žmogus ir padaręs jį labiau skaitomą! Dabar, deja, ši knyga man kelia frustraciją ir širdgėlą.


Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it

A well written description of the (in the authors opinion) ten greatest "inventions" of evolution

These include
the origin of life itself,
the eukaryotes,
warm bloodedness (homeothermy),
and death.

The author is a biochemist and his analysis is very chemical oriented , but still very readable for a layperson. He explains various techniques for discovering the information in a way I could understand.

I admit that in some places I lost him but
Jan 16, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I found this to be a mixed bag. I found some chapters such as Complex Cells and Hot Blood fascinating and others such as Movement and Consciousness quite tedious. The author does a good job of reducing complex biological processes into simpler terms but I felt he used weird analogies far too often to illustrate his point. When he started comparing muscle proteins into classical music I had to roll my eyes. In addition, a few more illustrations would be useful to show some concepts.
It was nice to
This was one of the best books I have ever had the pleasure to read. If you like a book that delves deep into every tiny detail, this is the book for you. If things like ATP, leaky mitochondria, bacteria that can live in strange conditions, how DNA was discovered (and how Crick thought aliens put it on Earth), you will enjoy Lane's wonderful adventure of how life came to be. The science in this book was outstanding.
Jul 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Hayes, Susanna
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Veronika Sebechlebská
Na základe genetického rozboru dochovanej kosti sa zistilo, že tím nejbližším žijícím příbuzným T. rexe je obyčejné kuře, těsně následované pštrosem . Keďže som v detstve bola prenasledovaná nejedným kikiríkajúcim diablom, prikláňam sa k tejto teórii.

Vidíme asi 80x lépe něž většina hmyzu, jehož vidění je tak rozostřené, že by se dnes snad už dalo prohlásit i za umění. Made my day, ale veľmi tomu neverím, pretože tie sprosté komáre vždy veľmi dobre vidia, keď na ne útočím.

Inak pre laika je to do
الشناوي محمد جبر
ارتقاء الحياة (الاختراعات العشرة العظيمة للتطور)
نيك لين
يعتبر هذا الكتاب من الكتب المميزة جدا في التعرف علي عملية التطور وكيف بدأت الحياة علي الأرض، وكيف تطورت. ورغم أن الكتاب صعب إلا أن الفائدة في مطالعته أو مطالعة بعض فصوله، تعتبر فائدة مضمونة.
في الفصل الأول (أصل الحياة) بدأ الكاتب حديثه عن بداية ظهور الحياة علي الأرض القديمة قبل أن تنتعش بغاز الأكسجين، وقبل أن يتطور غلافها الجوي إلي ما هو عليه الآن. يرى العلماء أن الحياة قبل عصر سيادة غاز الأكسجين لم تكن تعتمد علي الأك
Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Before reading Nick Lane I have never had interest in Biology. I didn't even watch Animal Planet. And for a month now I can't stop talking about mitochondria, DNA, evolution, etc.
His books are fascinating. I like the way he structures his statements, his sense of humor, the analogies he makes, the notions that start floating in your head. I like that he obviously likes The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy :)
Somebody here has said that he is speculating too much with unproved theories. May be bec
Courtney Johnston
How do I love this book? Let me count the ways ...

I love Nick Lane's tone, which manages to balance wit and clarity without overusing the analogy button:

Thermodynamics is one of those words best avoided in a book with any pretence to be popular, but it's more engaging if it's seen for what it is: the science of 'desire'. The existence of atoms and molecules is dominated by 'attractions', 'repulsions', 'wants' and 'discharges', to the point that it becomes virtually impossible to write about chem
Dr. Carl Ludwig Dorsch

Nick Lane is a self-described evolutionary biochemist and presently Senior Lecturer in the Research Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London. His Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution was awarded the 2010 Royal Society Prize for Science Books. He has previously published Oxygen: The Molecule that Made the World and Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life. His What is Living? Why Energy Drives the Origin and Evolution of Life
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One can study the biochemistry of photosynthesis in some detail and be unaware of the different pathways that exist and existed in different organisms, of its effect on the color of the sky, of its effect on the structural components of large plants and animals, and of the peculiarities of its evolutionary origin. Nick Lane gives a brilliant overview of the nature, significance and origin of the 10 greatest inventions of evolution including, the origin of life itself, DNA, photosynthesis, the eu ...more
Kinan Diraneyya
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: natural-science
مع أنني التقطت هذا الكتاب بشكل عشوائي من رف كتبنا في المنزل إلا أنني سعيد جدا بما وجدته فيه, يناقش هذا الكتاب ما يسميه في عنوانه "الاختراعات الشعرة العظيمة للتطور" وهي بحق أهم المشكلات التي ستفكر فيها عندما تتأمل في مسألة التطور (تطور العين والتكاثر الجنسي والقدرة على الحركة على سبيل المثال), أحد الأسباب التي دفعتني لتقييم الكتاب بأربعة نجوم بدلا عن خمسة هو وصفه التقني لبعض المسائل التي لم أشعر بأنني معني بها, كما أنا الكثير من التفاصيل موزعة بشكل عشوائي بين الفصول الرئيسية وبين الملحوظات الهامش ...more
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: natural_world
38th book for 2018.

This book confirms that my opinion that the very best science writing is inevitably done by active and opinionated scientists.

This is a wonderful book that covers everything from the origin of life, though the creation of DNA, photosynthesis, sex, movement, sight, warm bloodness, consciousness and even death.

Bill Leach
Jul 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book has much more content than the title would suggest. The ten inventions are examined in detail from an evolutionary perspective, providing the latest knowledge and current theories as to how and when each evolved. Super engaging.

Chapter 1 - The Origin of Life

It appears that life started in the alkaline sea floor vents where seawater reacts with newly exposed rocks, creating the mineral serpentine. A steady supply of hydrogen reacts with carbon dioxide to form organic molecules (reverse
Sajith Kumar
Jul 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Serious readers
Shelves: popular-science
This book showcases a chemist’s eye view of evolution, thereby affording another perspective to the charming story of life. In a survey of the history of life on earth, the author comes out with ten events, or rather inventions in his parlance, that thoroughly changed the course of life and diverted it into the highway leading to complex organisms like mammals and men. Development of the complex cell, sight, power of movement and sex constitute a few of the characteristics identified by the auth ...more
R Nair
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book that really delves into the biochemical reasons for things being as they are in nature. From the origin of life in alkaline vents surrounded by sea water creating organic compounds to the evolutionary reasoning behind the existence of death itself, originating from the process of apoptosis (cellular suicide) in bacterial prehistory to curb bacteriophage infections.
This book is an excellent introduction into the chemistry of life and the various major fields of study where rese
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We are always at the brink of the known; we always feel forward forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error, and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible
I was going to point out that the third chapter, about photosynthesis, was my favorite chapter because I could read it over and over again and I would still be fascinated, then I remembered that the second chapter was also as good, the fourth chapter as well. I really really loved the book and I will definitely read Nick Lane's other books starting with the book about Oxygen because the third chapter left its mark on me!!
Ricardo Sanchez
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un libro que hace cambiar las teorías que teníamos sobre el origen de la vida. Las chimeneas termales y el intercambio celular para dar paso a las eucariotas.
Muchas de las ideas preconcebidas quedan en duda. La reflexión y una nueva visión desde la bioquímica y la paleontología hace asombrarnos.
Los distintos metabismo basales y el porque de los animales de sangre caliente.
La visión con inicios en el ritmo circadiano desde animales con ojos pero "ciegos".
La consciencia, la muerte, la fotosínte
Gavin Drury
Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"I think that the picture painted in this book is true. Life most surely evolved, along the lines described here. That is not dogma, but evidence tested in reality and corrected accordingly. Whether this grand picture is compatible with faith in God, I do not know. For some people, intimately acquainted with evolution, it is; for others, it is not. But whatever our beliefs, this richness of understanding should be a cause for marvel and celebration. It is a most wonderful thing to share so much ...more
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pop-science
1. L’origine della vita. Il globo terrestre visto dallo spazio

- L’importanza dell’idrogeno e dell’ossigeno:
Le molecole presenti nel cibo hanno un grande desiderio di reagire con l’ossigeno, ma per fortuna non reagiscono spontaneamente (sono un po’ schive), altrimenti andremmo tutti in fiamme. Ma la fiamma della vita, la combustione lenta che sostiene tutti noi, è una reazione esattamente di questo tipo: l’idrogeno sottratto al cibo reagisce con l’ossigeno per liberare tutta l’energia di cui abb
Ralph Hermansen
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Life Ascending" by Dr. Nick Lane is a fascinating adventure. I would not recommend it to you as your first book on evolution and probably not as your second or third. However, if you have read enough to somewhat appreciate the role of DNA and genes in evolutionary science, then you will find this book very worth reading. The author is a biochemist and he looks at evolution through a biochemist's eyes. He stops short of introducing structural formulas of organic compounds and focuses more on des ...more
Apr 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
And how did consiousness rise from lifeless matter? His chapter about consciousness has some interesting things to say about that. With that I mean that is has become possible to observe the brain working, seeing specialised regions at work in the brain.
They see how the brain - while the person looks at an object- has 30 to 60 regions of specialised neurons firing. They only fire when their litle aspect is recognised.
E.g. we have neurons specialised in firing only when an object moves from left
Jan 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Life Ascending, winner of the 2010 Royal Society prize for popular science books, is one of the greatest of all time. The OEDB list of greatest popular science books is out of date. This is science on the cutting edge, championing theories that have been gaining attention slowly in recent years, among those interested in biology but not in the mass media. Techniques, equipment and insights started with the Human Genome Project, plus the ability to see and model ever tinier structures, have led t ...more
Ben McFarland
Oct 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the first book I've read by Nick Lane and I already know I'm going to read more. Lane approaches scientific controversy with a light hand, but he talks about the real issues and the real science going on. Lane is a practicing biochemist who writes popular science, and it shows. This book is framed around 10 "innovations" evolved by life: all the way from the origin of life to mitochondria to consciousness and death. A lot of the general issues I've become familiar with from the scientifi ...more
Ioannis Savvas
Feb 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: Βιολογία
Ο Nick Lane είναι βιοχημικός και το βιβλίο του Life Ascending κέρδισε το Royal Society Prize for Science Books για το 2010. Διαβάζοντας πρόσφατα ένα φρικτό βιβλίο εκλαϊκευμένης επιστήμης, η σύγκριση είναι αναπόφευκτη. Ο Nick Lane συνθέτει μια συμφωνία επιστημονικών δεδομένων για να παρουσιάσει ένα καταπληκτικό μουσικό έργο με πρωταγωνιστή την Εξέλιξη. Ο συγγραφέας επιλέγει τις δέκα σημαντικότερες «εφευρέσεις» της Εξέλιξης και συνθέτει δέκα κεφάλαια κλιμακωτά. Βήμα-βήμα ανεβαίνει την εξελικτική π ...more
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Science of evolution 1 33 Jan 20, 2010 08:55AM  
  • Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters
  • At the Water's Edge: Fish with Fingers, Whales with Legs, and How Life Came Ashore but Then Went Back to Sea
  • Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom
  • Written in Stone: Evolution, the Fossil Record, and Our Place in Nature
  • Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth
  • The Counter-Creationism Handbook
  • The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin's Dilemma
  • Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul
  • Life on a Young Planet: The First Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth
  • Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives
  • Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life's Origin
  • Evolution: The First Four Billion Years
  • The Structure of Evolutionary Theory
  • Every Living Thing: Man's Obsessive Quest to Catalog Life, from Nanobacteria to New Monkeys
  • Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction
  • The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance
  • Eating the Sun: How Plants Power the Planet
  • Relics of Eden: The Powerful Evidence of Evolution in Human DNA
Dr Nick Lane is a British biochemist and writer. He was awarded the first Provost's Venture Research Prize in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London, where he is now a Reader in Evolutionary Biochemistry. Dr Lane’s research deals with evolutionary biochemistry and bioenergetics, focusing on the origin of life and the evolution of complex cells. Dr Lane w ...more
“Nothing is more conservative than a bacterium.” 9 likes
“Petty human squabbles over borders and oil and creed vanish in the knowledge that this living marble surrounded by infinite emptiness is our shared home, and more, a home we share with, and owe to, the most wonderful inventions of life.” 6 likes
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