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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is conscious life?
In a way I am not competent to hold a view on this book. I only understand the first three and the last chapter. The chapters in between require more scientific knowledge than I have. Still, I strongly recommend reading this book; even if is only to read the final chapter. The book is written by a prominent scientist to find the answer to: what is life? especially life of...
Published on 26 Nov. 2008 by laurens van den muyzenberg

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How a living cell overcomes constraints of the Second law of thermodynamics
This book is not for the faint hearted! It requires an undergraduate level of thermodynamics, and some working knowledge of biology, and laws of relativity and quantum physics. The author has done her best to write this book to a general reader about physics and biology of life; a monotonous and tedious job to describe in a book of 250 pages. She is influenced by the work...
Published on 17 May 2007 by Rama Rao


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is conscious life?, 26 Nov. 2008
By 
laurens van den muyzenberg "laurens" (Villa Lama, Super Cannes, 06220 Vallauris Golfe-Juan.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rainbow And The Worm, The: The Physics Of Organisms (3Rd Edition) (Paperback)
In a way I am not competent to hold a view on this book. I only understand the first three and the last chapter. The chapters in between require more scientific knowledge than I have. Still, I strongly recommend reading this book; even if is only to read the final chapter. The book is written by a prominent scientist to find the answer to: what is life? especially life of human beings.
The last chapter "time and free will" is an eye opener. For example: we have two selves, an internal one and an external one. The external one consists of all the relationships we have with others. Obvious once you realize this. The self is not doomed to fight others for survival as some people interpret Darwinism. On the contrary sustaining others makes the inner self stronger. The self and others are completely intertwined.
Another example. The final summary: What is reality? "Reality is thus a shimmering presence of infinite planes, a luminous labyrinth of the active now connecting "past" and "future", "real" with "ideal", where potential unfolds into actual and actual enfolds further potential through the free action and intention of the organism". The conclusions are remarkably similar to Buddhist concepts. You could even say it is a profound interpretation.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent discourse on the scientific philosophy of life., 30 July 1999
By A Customer
M-W Ho begins this book with the question "What is Life?" and then states that the purpose of the book is to "keep the question alive". I believe he has creatively combined some of the deep intricies of physics (thermodynamics and quantum theory) with some fundemental biologic observations to establish an excellent framework for thinking about the nature of life. His descriptions of thermodynamics and quantum theory depend more on intuition than mathematics, and thus are accessible to non-speacialists. M-W Ho addresses observations in the atomic world, molecular world, cellular world up into the world of consciouness and civilization. This book has provided much "food for thought" concerning the deep issues of "Life" at many levels.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How a living cell overcomes constraints of the Second law of thermodynamics, 17 May 2007
By 
Rama Rao "Rama" (Annandale, VA, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This book is not for the faint hearted! It requires an undergraduate level of thermodynamics, and some working knowledge of biology, and laws of relativity and quantum physics. The author has done her best to write this book to a general reader about physics and biology of life; a monotonous and tedious job to describe in a book of 250 pages. She is influenced by the work of celebrated physicist Erwin Schrodinger and his passion for understanding life. The reader can see Schrodinger's influence throughout this book. Chapter 2 to 6 deals with Schrödinger's concept in explaining how a living cell exports entropy in order to maintain its own entropy at a low level or near zero there by circumventing the constraints of Second law of thermodynamics.

In the second half of the book the author explores various physical and chemical concepts to show how nature keeps cellular entropy production to a minimum. First, the author discusses how the energy transductions in living cells occur, and she determines that heat transfer is not the major form of energy transduction. The biomacromolecules are setup within the cell to near solid state or liquid crystalline like state such that it promotes synchronicity and coherence through electric, electromagnetic and electro mechanical interactions, which are primary source for energy. Coupled electron transfer reactions and other cyclic process that occur in a nested space - time organization within the cell helps minimize entropy since, for a coupled molecular process the entropy production is zero.

Intermolecular dipolar interactions among membrane bound proteins/enzymes, and nucleic acids which act as biological semiconductor devices; and quantum tunneling operate in many electron and proton transfer proteins. DNA and RNA are large dielectric molecules that can sustain coherent excited sates. In chapter 8 - 10 the importance of coherent process that removes biochemical processes away from thermodynamic equilibrium by energy flow have been discussed. The operation of quantum coherence, a coherent state that maximizes both global cohesion and local freedom such that micro domains and nested compartments within the cytosol or nucleus or membrane right down to a single biomacromolecules all functioning autonomously doing different things and at different rates generating flow patterns yet all coupled together in supporting the cellular process. A high degree of coherence, coordination, compartmentalization and regulation of multiple biochemical reactions involving numerous proteins, enzymes, nucleic acids, carbohydrates and lipids is proposed as a compensating mechanism to minimize entropy. While the author does her best to bring everything in literature together to support a reasonable hypothesis, but the experimental evidences in support of these concepts operating in a cell is not very strong and hence it is some way to go for universal acceptance.

One important feature devised by nature in electron transfer reactions is a metal mediated reaction that has never been addressed in this book. These transfers are facile quantum chemical reactions where nature has used transition metals (with vacant 3d orbitals) to promote electron transfers between low molecular weight biomolecules that otherwise would be thermodynamically disallowed. Iron, copper and manganese perform key cellular reactions. Alkali metals such as sodium, potassium and calcium also participate in many ionic reactions that offer thermodynamic advantages to a living cell.

I found this author to be enigmatic since the book is heavily regionalized in its assertions. She refers to the scientific thought conveyed in this work as Western science throughout this book. Chapter 14 offers a very interesting discussion of entropy, and chapter 15 reminisces about the philosophy of life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A modern view on life, 14 May 2014
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This review is from: Rainbow And The Worm, The: The Physics Of Organisms (3Rd Edition) (Paperback)
A magical view of life, from how the body outwits the laws of thermodynamics to body water acting as liquid crystal. A must read for anyone wanting a modern view of organisms.
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