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Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Danny Yee

Michael P Murphy and Luke A J O'Neill

What is Life The next fifty years

In 1943 Erwin Schrödinger wrote 'What is Life', a book which is considered to have had great influence on the future of biology, in particular inspiring physicists such as Francis Crick to take an interest in the subject. 'What is Life? The next fifty years', is based on lectures given to mark the 50th anniversary of Schrödinger's book. Scientists such as Stephen J Gould, Roger Penrose, and Jared Diamond look at which of Schrödinger's predictions have come to fruition and which may form the basis of future research. If you're interested in what eminent scientists think are the hot topics in biology then you should take a look at this book.

This work picks up two main themes from Schrödinger, firstly order from order and secondly order from disorder. The first, concerning the transmission of information via genes, has had a great influence since Schrödinger's book. The second, concerning the origin of life from non-living matter, and general questions of the thermodynamics of life, is seen as an important field of study for the future. However, although the book is subtitled 'Speculations on the future of biology', I wasn't convinced that the contributors really entered into the spirit of futurology - the book is more of a report on the current state of play in various fields.

Product Description
Erwin Schrödinger's book What is Life?, which was originally delivered as a set of lectures at Trinity College, Dublin, is perhaps one of the most important scientific books of the twentieth century. It marked the beginning of molecular biology, and stimulated scientists such as Watson and Crick to explore and discover the structure of DNA. The novelty and appeal of What is Life? is that Schrödinger addressed the central problems of biology--heredity and how organisms use energy to maintain order--from a physicist's perspective. Fifty years later, at Trinity College, a number of outstanding scientists from a range of disciplines gathered to celebrate the anniversary of Schrödinger's lectures. In this book, they present their views on the current main problems in biology. The contributors are eminent scientists (including two Nobel Laureates) and well-known writers of popular science, including Jared Diamond, Christien de Duve, Manfred Eigen, Stephen Jay Gould, Stuart Kauffman, John Maynard Smith, Roger Penrose, and Lewis Wolpert. They tackle questions on our current understanding of the origin of life, evolution, the origin of human inventiveness, developmental biology, and the basis for consciousness. The book ends with a touching biography by Schrödinger's daughter, Ruth Braunizer. This book will set the stage for biological research into the next century and is essential reading for anyone interested in biology and its future.