When Darwin set out to explain the origins of living things, he made no attempt to answer the deeper question: what is life? For generations since, scientists have struggled to make sense of this central conundrum. For life really does look like magic, its secrets cloaked by a shroud of impenetrable complexity. Huge advances in biology over the past decades have served only to deepen the mystery: even a humble bacterium accomplishes things so dazzling that no human engineer can match it.
But now an answer to the question is at hand, and it comes from a field of science so new and so fast-moving that it lacks a name, a domain where computing, chemistry, quantum physics and nanotechnology collide. The link that interweaves these diverse fields is information-not in the prosaic everyday sense, but as an abstract concept: information is a force as important, profound and physically impactful as energy. Its power to unify biology with physics heralds a new scientific revolution, poised to transform technology and medicine, and to illuminate the age-old question of whether we are alone in the universe.
The Demon in the Machine is our very first, breath-taking journey through this revolutionary research. Pioneering physicist and astrobiologist Paul Davies takes us from primordial soup, photosynthesis and two-headed worms right up to the dizzy heights of consciousness, quantum mechanics, and avian navigation, to reveal how it is, exactly, that information defies the physical laws to create order from chaos-letting us in on the very secret of life itself.
Praise for The Origin of Life: One of a handful of first-rate scientists who are popular writers. If you are going to read only one book on the origin of life, seriously consider this one * The New York Times * Davies succeeds not only in being provocative and controversial, but in maintaining the rigorous scientific approach of the physicist... a classic example of how to present a scientific case, and an insight into the way good scientists work -- John Gribbin * Independent *