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Cover

Oxygen

The molecule that made the world

Nick Lane

April 2016

ISBN: 9780198784937

400 pages
Paperback
196x129mm

In Stock

Price: £9.99

Oxygen is the engine of life and evolution. This book explores the impact that oxygen has had on Earth, and the history of life. Explaining the rise of animals and plants, the origin of two sexes, and the evolution of ageing and death, it offers fresh perspectives on our own lives, explaining why we age and what we can do about it.

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Description

Oxygen is the engine of life and evolution. This book explores the impact that oxygen has had on Earth, and the history of life. Explaining the rise of animals and plants, the origin of two sexes, and the evolution of ageing and death, it offers fresh perspectives on our own lives, explaining why we age and what we can do about it.

  • A panoramic view of life on Earth. drawing on geology, cosmology, chemistry, biology, and medicine
  • Shows how oxygen drove the evolution of sophisticated cells, multicellular organisms, large animals and plants, photosynthesis, predators, giant insects, two sexes, and ageing
  • Links the extremes of the living world, from bacterial tolerance of cosmic radiation, to the organization of our own bodies, to the extinction of the dinosaurs in a global firestorm
  • Offers fresh perspectives on our own lives and deaths, explaining why we age and what we can do about it
  • Part of the Oxford Landmark Science range: 'must-read' modern science and big ideas, which have shaped the way we think.

About the Author(s)

Nick Lane, Reader in Evolutionary Biochemistry, Research Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College of London

Dr Nick Lane is a British biochemist and writer. He was awarded the first Provost's Venture Research Prize in the Department of Genetics, Evolution, and Environment at University College London, where he is now a Reader in Evolutionary Biochemistry. Dr Lane's research deals with evolutionary biochemistry and bioenergetics, focusing on the origin of life and the evolution of complex cells. Dr Lane was a founding member of the UCL Consortium for Mitochondrial Research, and is leading the UCL Research Frontiers Origins of Life programme. He was awarded the 2011 BMC Research Award for Genetics, Genomics, Bioinformatics and Evolution, and the 2015 Biochemical Society Award for his sustained and diverse contribution to the molecular life sciences and the public understanding of science. His books include Oxygen: The Molecule that Made the World (OUP, 2002), and Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life (OUP, 2005).

Table of Contents

    1:Introduction: Elixir of Life - and Death
    2:In the Beginning: The Origins and Importance of Oxygen
    3:Silence of the Aeons: Three Billion Years of Microbial Evolution
    4:Fuse to the Cambrian Explosion: Snowball Earth, Environmental Change and the First Animals
    5:The Bolsover Dragonfly: Oxygen and the Rise of the Giants
    6:Treachery in the Air: Oxygen Poisoning and X-Irradiation: A Mechanism in Common
    7:Green Planet: Radiation and the Beginnings of Photosynthesis
    8:Looking for LUCA: Last Ancestor in the Age Before Oxygen
    9:Portrait of a Paradox: Vitamin C and the Many Faces of an Antioxidant
    10:The Antioxidant Machine: A Hundred and One Ways of Living with Oxygen
    11:Sex and the Art of Bodily Maintenance: Trade-offs in the Evolution of Ageing
    12:Eat! Or You'll Live Forever: The Triangle of Food, Sex, and Longevity
    13:Gender Bender: The Rate of Living and the Need for Sexes
    14:Beyond Genes and Destiny: The Double Agent Theory of Ageing and Disease
    15:Life, Death and Oxygen: Lessons From Evolution on the Future of Ageing
    Further Reading
    Glossary
    Index

Reviews

'. . . popular science writing at its very best - clear yet challenging, speculative yet rigorous. The book is a tour de force which orchestrates a seamless story out of both venerable ideas and very recent discoveries in several disparate fields.' - Bernard Dixon

'. . . a breathtaking, broad vision of the role of a single gas in our life, from the origin of organisms, through the emergence of creatures, and to their deaths . . . packed full of interesting life-and-death stories...A wonderful read.' - Peter Atkins

'. . . one of the most thought-provoking books I have ever read.' - John Emsley

Nick Lane's chapters are dispatches from the frontiers of research into Earth and life history, but they contain nothing that will lose the patient reader and much that will reward. - The Guardian Review

a brisk revelatory study - Christopher Hirst, The Independent

. . . Nick Lane marshals an impressive array of evidence - [an] ambitious narrative . . . This is science writing at its best. - Jerome Burne, The Financial Times

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