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The Machinery of Life

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  460 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Imagine that we had some way to look directly at the molecules in a living organism. An x-ray microscope would do the trick, or since we're dreaming, perhaps an Asimov-style nanosubmarine (unfortunately, neither is currently feasible). Think of the wonders we could witness firsthand: antibodies atta- ing a virus, electrical signals racing down nerve fibers, proteins buildi ...more
Hardcover, 167 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Copernicus Books (first published January 1st 1992)
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Average rating 4.38  · 
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Jun 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I passed 10th grade biology . . . barely.

My friend James and I had the two cutest girls in the class as lab partners. I can't remember their names, but they were both pretty gorgeous. I ended up in that lab group mostly because of James' charm and good looks. I was not particularly charming. I can prove it:

James and I hung out a fair amount. We had fun. You know, teenagers. So when it came time in our biology class to dissect pig fetuses, we had a good time with it. James made the i
May 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Written for a person like me - no real experience in molecular biology beyond school bio and pop culture. Amazing illustrations.
Mar 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
An impressive overview of the field of molecular Biology. It goes into much less detail than The Processes of Life goes, but manages to give a broad intuition that has to leave one in awe for what is going on in our bodies. Who knew!?

I feel that precisely the combination of starting with the dense The Processes Of Life and following up with this one works very well (and that ordering might be precisely the reason this one catches on so well: most of the needed vocabulary one already encount
Dimitri Yatsenko
Mar 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: physiology
Textbooks on physiology are replete with cartoons of interacting molecules that attempt to convey only the relevant information without preserving detail, proportion, or scale. "The machinery of life" is a simple and visual primer to cellular physiology that conveys an accurate sense of proportion and relation between the major molecular ingredients of life.
Kinan Diraneyya
Aug 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: natural-science
I appreciate how much effort was spent creating this book, but I have to admit that it didn't work as well as planned.

The book filled with amazingly detailed (and seemingly very accurate) micro shots that gives a great idea about how things look on a molecular scale, however, reading the related paragraphs and connecting their points to what is in the image (which is only done by tiny black letters hidden in the many details of that image) is often a huge pain, many of these points are yet only naked scien
Michael Scott
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
TODO full review:
i The Machinery of Life is a book about the cell and its processes, focusing on visualization. The book covers the main molecular machines; the main processes of living, aging, and dying; the (prokaryote) bacterial cell; the (eukaryote) human cell; the specialization of cells constructing the human body; and viruses, toxins, and antiviruses and antitoxins. Overall, amazing drawings, and a simplistic but very interesting introduction to cell biology, written in accessible langu
Mansour Sadhan
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Most molecular biology text books dissect molecular biology into small digestible mouthfuls. That is understandable, indeed one can argue that this is what academic textbooks are meant to do. But that can have a negative side effect; missing the whole picture! A subject as complex and tangled as molecular biology can be an issue. One needs to read most of the 3kg book to get an all round grip on the subject! Enter David Goodsell! The Machinery of Life is a great book for anyone who wants to obta ...more
Atila Iamarino
Jun 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
David Goodsell é autor dos melhores desenhos de moléculas que já vi, incluindo a série de anos "Molecule of de Month" do E digo desenhos, quando na verdade ele pinta aquarelas usando como base a reconstrução mais realística possível do formato, tamanho e número de moléculas que trata. O melhor exemplo que conheço de como a arte científica pode ser ao mesmo tempo ser acurada e bela. Gostei do livro muito mais pelas pinturas e explicações do que pelo conteúdo em si, e ainda me surpreendi ...more
Mike de la Flor
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is one of the best popular books avaiable on cell biology. Though the book is brief the illustrations by David S. Goodsell speak volumes. The terrific illustrations along with the written descriptions give the reader insight into the invisible world of single celled organism and the cells in our bodies. I highly recommend this book to the cell biology student or to anyone interested in learning about the cell.
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is all about the illustrations, which are remarkable, though the front cover is really the masterpiece, and the rest of them are much more diagrammatic, less beautiful but perhaps providing more insight. With these diagrams, one definitely gets a feeling of density within the cells, the sharp proximity with which the chemical and mechanical machinery of the cell interacts.

The text is just fine, written with clarity and consistency at an accessible level. The writing definitely has the
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, non-fiction
This book is combines what makes a great popular science book and what makes a great coffee table book into something entirely new and wonderful. The illustrations, the primary focus of the book, are immersive and educational. The accompanying essays are written for the lay person but an undergraduate could also easily learn something new about molecular biology from them.

This style of book makes a really great gift. I recommend this (and Goodsell's other works) as a gift for anyone who loves m
Moritz Munzinger
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Should be mandatory material for all biology and medicine slides that students get to see in their lectures and books, as Goodsells illustrations are as informative and intuitively graspable as they are beautiful. With this book understanding what goes on in cells has never been easier. I think this is a tenfold improvement to traditional graphics. Save yourself the time and effort and read this instead of other illustrated works whenever you can.
So beautiful! I was surprised that the text was written for a general audience, but this makes for a great introduction to the molecular world. Close perusal of the figure captions introduced me to a group of proteins I knew nothing about! I’m thrilled to have something else new for my cell bio class. The illustrations are amazing; I bought this book after buying three full-sized posters for my office.
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wow! An amazing look deep inside human cells down to the molecular level. Two things I found amazing: the incredible electro-chemical processes that go on inside our cells; the fact of how much knowledge we have gained on how our bodies work at the deep molecular level. The diagrams are incredible, paintings of cell function magnified 1+ million times.
Mike Lisanke
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another great biochem book... this one has a lot of great detail on the interaction of biochemicals and pictures which give good insight into the structure of the molecules ... and as we learn, structure equals function in biochemistry. It is Not a biochemistry text book but goes into enough detail to add a lot of background to its understanding.
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful illustrations with complementary writing.

Simple and easy to understand the basic wiring of life.

I would be very proud to have achieved work on a similar level, as a scientific illustrator and researcher.
Peter Aronson
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A short, concise, readable work about the microscopic machinery that keeps us alive. The 2nd edition's illuminating color diagrams and paintings of the cellular machinery is what pushes this book to five stars.
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Damn, so good!
Sheng Peng
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some really cool nuts-and-bolts level explanation of how life works. Makes one appreciate just how amazingly complex being alive is.
Darko Doko
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biology
Well, I rated it 4 star but honestly I do not know much about subject to rate it properly. I should read this again.
Dec 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
The illustrations are amazing--very well thought out, great consistency of scale, sensible color schemes. You get a real sense of how crowded cells are, how complex some cells are and how there are vast differences in complexity between organisms.

I would have given this 5 stars if not for the text. The sometimes exhaustive listing of names of enzymes and proteins can be exhausting, especially when it doesn't pay off later in the book. For a textbook it's too lightweight, but for a ge
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pop-sci, read-2016
Incredibly well-written explanation of basic molecular biology that keeps you thrilled more like great sci-fi book. Except, this is real and happening right now in you.
One important thought that came to me was, that cell/molecular machinery is organised not like our man-made machines, but machines and systems work like molecular systems of living world.
Jun 05, 2016 added it
I really enjoyed reading the machinery of life because event though it was short it still helped me visualize and understand the bio molecular realm better. I also like teh water color pictures though for me I can gain information by reading alone it does help some people understand the inside of a cell after all there are very few microscopes that can see that small of an object.
Alexi Parizeau
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Right to the point with beautiful full-colour illustrations of the molecular machines inside our cells. My only frustration was that the illustrations were poorly labelled, making it a game of "Where's Waldo" just to find the items being discussed in each image.
Samu Vi
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
A nice book that can teach someone like me who's not so interested in biological studies of new ways to look at the world. I think I like biology now :)
Sep 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Perfect illustrations.
Andrew Badr
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great holistic introduction to microbiology, especially focusing on the human body.
Nov 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Amazing pictures
Jan 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Good book about molecular biology for lay audience. Beautiful watercolor paintings.
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
So so so cool!
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David S. Goodsell is an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Biology at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.