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Quantum Evolution: Life in the Multiverse Paperback – 4 Mar 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Frequently bought together

  • Quantum Evolution: Life in the Multiverse
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  • Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology
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  • Quantum: A Guide For The Perplexed
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; New Ed edition (4 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006551289
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006551287
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 444,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Amazon Review

Quantum Evolution tackles the hairiest heresy of evolutionary biology, the one most likely to get scientists figuratively burned at the stake: the notion that any force more selective than blind chance could drive mutation. Such "directed evolution" smacks too much of a retreat into creationism for most science-minded readers to be comfortable with, but there's no a priorireason to reject the idea. Molecular biologist Johnjoe McFadden risks the Inquisition by suggesting just such a possibility in Quantum Evolution: The New Science of Life. Directed at a general but somewhat sophisticated readership, it covers the basics of both standard evolutionary theory and quantum-level physics, then synthesizes them in an interesting theory of made-to-order mutation that explains enough to warrant attention and is, importantly, testable.

McFadden's writing is clear and sharp, and shows a high regard for the reader's intelligence and patience for complex ideas. This is no airplane book--except for those already well-versed in the latest in both evolutionary theory and subatomic physics. The rewards of reading are great, and the author bows just enough to established theory that he might meet the fate of his intellectual predecessors. The ideas underlying Quantum Evolution may be right or wrong, but they challenge received wisdom without plunging into dogmatism--and that's good science. --Rob Lightner

Synopsis

How did life start? How did something capable of replicating itself emerge from the primordial soup? How did it defy the odds? And how did it carry on seeking out the very mutations that enable survival? Living organisms are controlled by a single molecule - DNA. Yet the study of physics tells us that the behaviour of single molecules is also controlled by the laws of quantum mechanics. The implications of this for biology have not been fully thought through. Until now. In this debut, Johnjoe McFadden puts forward a theory of quantum evolution. He shows how living organisms have the ability to will themselves into action. Indeed, such an ability may be life's most fundamental attribute. This has radical implications. Evolution may not be random at all, as recent evolutionary theories have taught: rather, cells may, in certain circumstances, be able to choose to mutate particular genes that provide an advantage in the environment in which the cell finds itself.

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