Books : reviews

Addy Pross.
What is Life?: how chemistry becomes biology.
OUP. 2012

What is life and how did it emerge from non-life? Living forms are made up of the same ‘dead’ atoms and molecules as inanimate forms. Yet, unlike inanimate matter living things reproduce, maintain themselves, and behave purposefully. What gives life this unique character—a character we routinely take for granted? Erwin Schrodinger’s famous book powerfully articulated these questions back in the 1940s. However, we cannot understand what life is without understanding how it arose. Now, the emerging field of systems chemistry may finally be giving us insights into the most profound question of the life sciences. And as Addy Pross shows in this compelling and important book, the principle by which life can arise turns out to be none other than a deeper, more fundamental chemical expression of Darwinian evolution.