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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oxygen - The Molecule that made the World, 28 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: Oxygen: The molecule that made the world (Popular Science) (Paperback)
This book takes the reader on a journey beginning 3.5 billion years ago explaining the likely origins of oxygen, its role in the evolution of life on earth and how it continues to govern the human life cycle at the molecular level. The content is generally factual and draws from many disciplines including geology, biology, evolution and genetics, which the author has blended to provide a comprehensive picture of a gaseous element we all depend upon but undoubtedly take for granted. Overall the book is an interesting read, although the latter third is predominantly concerned with genetics and human aging which at times seems to have no direct relevance to oxygen.

A further caveat is that the content in some parts may be considered too academic and difficult to understand for a reader unfamiliar with the basics of bio-chemistry, evolutionary biology and genetics. In this respect - whether by accident or intent - the author cites an appropriate quote attributed to a geneticist who suggests that biochemistry as a subject is unfit for popularization! This is not to imply the book should be avoided by the casual reader as I think it attempts to explain a very complex subject in a manner which avoids excessive use of discipline-specific jargon. However the book is a challenge and demands the reader's attention, if knowledge is to be gained about a molecule that is essential and yet dangerous to humankind. It is only for this reason that I refrain from giving the book the highest rating.
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