I am not a scientist –atleast, not in the sense that I have a university degree stating it. On some level however, anyone who has a sense of curiosity and a desire for knowledge is a scientist. It was because of this curiosity and desire that I chose to read Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology. However, like I said, I am not a scientist, so my review of the book comes from the POV of a layperson.
What is life? What is consciousness? Can we create life from scratch? The authors Johnjoe Mc Fadden and Jim Al Khalili have attempted ito answer these and other such questions in this rather bewildering book. To do this, they look to the secrets of quantum physics. As they mention somewhere in the book, biology is largely about chemistry and chemistry is in turn a sort of physics. From migrating birds and butterflies to pre-historic cave paintings, the book attempts to cover a huge slice of life, as it explains, for example, how a blad of grass is like a quantum computer.
As fascinating as the presmise is though, reading this book was difficult. For someone like me, who comes at it without the required technical background, it is an uphill battle. The authors have tried their best to make it palatable to the layperson, and indeed there were parts of the book during which I was captivated. They use metaphors the reader can easily connect to and the examples are clear. There is a lot of recent research refernced and the experiments are described in a way that is easy to understand. On the whole however, it was hard to stay with the book. The writers sound truly excited to be describing the quantum level processes, but without any background knowledge, I found it difficult to share that sense of discovery. Despite the best efforts of the authors, it is more of a scientific text than a non fiction read for the general population.
The book does succeed however in raising the bar of curiosity. It is nice to know that what happens in stardust may be what is happening within our cells. What is certain is that there is a lot we do not know and a lot we can explore.
FTC disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this honest review.