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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creation
Creation , the origin of life is fantastic, really gripping and I'm about to reread it straight away! The future of life will wait for a year or two for a revisit
Published 9 months ago by Mr Craig peggie

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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but Confusing
Adam Rutherford's account of the origin of life is interesting but confusing. He very frequently presents confusing statements of the certainty of scientific knowledge. For example on page 56 he writes ` we know that..the planet was probably largely molten..contrary to previous thinking we now think' and then tells us on the next page that the source of the earth's water...
Published 14 months ago by Geoff Crocker


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creation, 11 Oct 2013
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Creation , the origin of life is fantastic, really gripping and I'm about to reread it straight away! The future of life will wait for a year or two for a revisit
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creation: two great books in one!, 7 May 2013
Recommended. I very much enjoyed Rutherford's walk through the origins and future of life.

I particularly enjoyed flipping the book over to read from each 'half' of the work one bit at a time (though one could also read each half in its entirety just as easily), I felt that each part complemented the other perfectly.

The author's style is friendly without being colloquial, informed without being dogmatic and he seems to know just how far to delve into a topic to keep the material interesting. I particularly appreciate that Rutherford, like any good scientist, writes about implications, predictions, likelihoods and consensus, rather than just describing current theories as if they are hard facts.

I finished the book knowing a lot more about this rather elusive concept, 'life', but even better, I got a good sense of why we think the things we do about the origins and future of life.

Thoroughly enjoyable, informative and entertaining.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute must-read, 13 April 2013
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I used to love Biology at school, even though very often the way it was taught was stuffy, with the science coming across as stagnant. Creation completely smashes that myth into pieces, presenting the history of how we discovered the inner workings of life, and how we're starting to build on this knowledge to create new, synthetic life. Rutherford has a very engaging writing style, and his enthusiasm for the subject matter is infectious - you can't help but feel exciting as you tour through things like the discovery of DNA, and some of the controversy surrounding GM. He presents what are, at times, quite difficult concepts in an easy-to-understand, friendly manner that makes you want to learn more. It would be the perfect, complimentary companion to students taking GCSEs or A-Levels in Biology, and for older readers, does a spectacularly good job of rekindling interest in the subject. In short: get this book, you won't be disappointed.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent elegantly explained 'prequel and sequel to life', 14 April 2013
Though there are many books about evolution, and the development of life on this planet, Rutherford finds a niche with his book 'Creation', and it covers ground not tackled in a popular science book before. From thermal vents 4 billion years ago to bleeding edge genetic manipulation techniques that could potentially tackle problems in medicine, renewable energy and long-haul space exploration, the book is fascinating, with tough and complex biological theory explained with elegance and clarity. Highly recommended for inquisitive minds who like intelligent writing and gripping stories.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Life – forwards and backwards, 15 Jun 2014
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Jeremy Bevan (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Creation: The Origin of Life / The Future of Life (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book - actually two books, one looking back at how life came to be, and the other ahead into the potentially exciting (near) future of synthetic biology. The latter arises inescapably out of the former, of course, and is a measure of how far scientists’ understanding of cell biology, the genome and the workings of RNA/DNA have advanced in recent decades. You can start reading at either end, and I began by looking back at how the discoveries of Leuwenhoek, Darwin, Mendel, Crick, Watson and many others have advanced our knowledge of what life is, how living organisms ‘work’ and replicate, and where life might have come from. Rutherford writes really well, and with wit, dropping in a reference to David Bowie’s ‘Life on Mars’, for example, while writing about the search for signs of life on other planets. The ‘forward look’ was equally fascinating, with some great examples of current cutting-edge work - one example is a project to produce artificially the cytokines that would protect astronauts against the high levels of radiation experienced in space travel. I could have done with more exploration of some of the ethical issues that surround this topic, GMOs being a case in point – I felt Rutherford was a bit journalistically sketchy on the opposition to them. But this is very much an introduction to the topic, and the author does provide quite a few bibliographical references for those wanting to follow up particular points.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 5 Jun 2014
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Orrery (Bedford, England) - See all my reviews
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A brilliant 2-in-one book, describing what we already know about abiogenesis - and we do know quite a lot - and then how the technology may develop in the future..

Although we will never find fossils to prove it, the book explains how the process could have worked - reducing it to something perfectly possible, not requiring the supernatural.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 13 April 2013
This is popular science, yes, but not dumbed down science. Readable, engaging and accessible. I must admit to being wary of popular science books after reading the likes of Dawkins on one side or Matt Riddley (quoted above) on the other, who work from their politics before the scientific reality , this is the real deal. A great read deserving of praise. A Riddley quote should be enough to tell anyone to stay clear, for fear of libertarian silliness, but I beg you to persevere. Very worthy, very engaging. Worth a squirt.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but Confusing, 14 May 2013
By 
Geoff Crocker (Bristol UK) - See all my reviews
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Adam Rutherford's account of the origin of life is interesting but confusing. He very frequently presents confusing statements of the certainty of scientific knowledge. For example on page 56 he writes ` we know that..the planet was probably largely molten..contrary to previous thinking we now think' and then tells us on the next page that the source of the earth's water `remains controversial'. Similarly on page 97 on the language code of life, he uses phrases like `rather plausible', `we now have a grasp', `we have credible roots', interchangeably. This terminology is too loose - we can `know that ..probably' anything. As genetics researcher Nick Lane in his review of the book (Observer 6 April 2013) says `we know less than we think'.

In chapter 4 Rutherford shows that a unique definition of life is difficult to state - `the boundary between chemistry and biology is arbitrary' (page 72). How then can we explain what we can't define? In chapter 6, any theory of the genesis of the code of life appears to be highly speculative.

Rutherford sets out lots of data, but his overall interpretation is weak. He covers too much ground, from Darwin to cell theory, to meteor bombardment, to RNA and DNA, ribosome and ribozyme codes, some of the latter in such detail that it makes the points difficult to follow, and an overall synthesis difficult to assimilate.

He lauds `Darwin's idea' as `self evidently true, demonstrably true, experimentally true' (footnote page25 Book 1 plus more in this vein on page 26). But this typical position closes off intellectual development of Darwin. Darwin insisted that mutations are random, but selection logical. It is entirely possible that the reverse could hold, ie that mutations are adaptive, as more recent neo-Lamarckian research suggests, and selection a random process of predation, chance, catastrophe etc. Similarly, saltation may be a better explanator than mutation. And as Rutherford admits on page 14 of Book 2, the species barrier is `one of the great questions in biology'. It is the crossing of this barrier that Darwin addresses, and his continuous incremental theory does have a problem in explaining a discrete process of speciation. If as Rutherford points out, the definition of a species is reproductive isolation, ie organisms that can reproduce to yield fertile offspring, then crossing such a discrete barrier by a slow incremental process is problematic. How does the first organism in a new species find a mate capable of fertile reproduction?

Rutherford does treat the genetic work of Gregor Mendel, but doesn't make the explicit connection that Mendel's work on dominant genes rescued Darwin's theory from blending of new mutations back into the host population. He doesn't mention W D Hamilton's theory of the `selfish gene' as a response to altruism as a challenge to Darwin at all. By page 45, Rutherford is telling us that the evolutionary story is `almost always only ever hypothetical' and claims of species descent are `often overstating what we can know'.

The second half of the book is an outline of synthetic biology and a defence of GM crop research and is less cataclysmic than the build up leads us to expect. It doesn't really match up to its claim as an account of `the future of life'.

The book exemplifies a problem with popular science writing by media scientists who know the people who are doing science but aren't doing it themselves. They are writing for an audience who are unqualified to answer back, who are being told rather than being engaged in debate. Rutherford does this with panache, with almost schoolboy enthusiasm in what sometimes reads like a brain dump. But the didactic unilateralism of the exercise is somehow unsatisfactory. Isn't there something for us to think about, rather than being told?
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended..., 14 April 2013
For those of us who stay awake at night asking ourselves impossible questions, this book provides some fascinating and well researched answers, as well as posing all sorts of other equally impossible questions all over again. Well written and clearly set out, Rutherford continues to prove his geeky credentials... glad I bought this book and would def recommend to others.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 10 Nov 2013
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Easily readable by the non scientific like myself and yet fantastically illuminating of a subject matter that is both incredible and complicated. I would HIGHLY recommend to anyone interested to discover more about DNA, origins of life, and the potential for synthetic biology.
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Creation: The Origin of Life / The Future of Life
Creation: The Origin of Life / The Future of Life by Adam Rutherford (Paperback - 6 Feb 2014)
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