Wonders of Life: Exploring the Most Extraordinary

Wonders of Life: Exploring the Most Extraordinary Phenomenon in the Universe My bible.Ifpeople read this book, they would care a whole lotabout how precious our planet is. A glossy, weighty tome that covers a vast range of subjects, in bite sized chunks of a few pages at time I read the five chapter book alongside watching the five episode series which, although they cover a lot of similar ground in a different order, complement each other well enough to warrant watching and reading them both The book is obviously much, muchdetailed, certainly with regards to the biological details of evolution and the various example creatures Although this is a pretty h A glossy, weighty tome that covers a vast range of subjects, in bite sized chunks of a few pages at time I read the five chapter book alongside watching the five episode series which, although they cover a lot of similar ground in a different order, complement each other well enough to warrant watching and reading them both The book is obviously much, muchdetailed, certainly with regards to the biological details of evolution and the various example creatures Although this is a pretty high brow book, it s surprisingly accessible and certainly not packed with equations and maths Anyone could find plenty to learn therein, probably even scientists, and the photos diagrams are attractive enough to draw in even the least scholarly child, despite the electron micrographs of e.g retinas, being a bit icky.Eagle eyed geek that I am, I managed to find a few tiny typos and mistakes, such as the positioning on the right of the big diagram on p186 7 and the table graph on p154 5 not quite correlating Pallet on p48 made me laugh too Slip ups aside, this is a wonderful book, well worth 25 considering the time and effort that must ve gone into it, and I heartily applaud the Reithian paragraph on the last page too I just enjoyed Human Universe that little bit4.75 5 In Wonders of Life Exploring the Most Extraordinary Force in the Universe, the definitive companion to the Discovery Science Channel series, Professor Brian Cox takes us on an incredible journey to discover the most complex, diverse, and unique force in the universe life itselfThrough his voyage of discovery, international bestselling author Brian Cox explains how the astonishing inventiveness of nature came about and uncovers the milestones in the epic journey from the origin of life to our own lives, with beautiful full color illustrations throughout From spectacular fountains of superheated water at the bottom of the Atlantic to the deepest rainforest, Cox seeks out the places where the biggest questions about life may be answered What is life Why do we need water Why does life end Physicist and professor Brian Cox uncovers the secrets of life in the most unexpected locations and in the most stunning detail in this beautiful full color volume I highly recommend Professor Brian Cox s latest offering, released 24th January 2013 Wonders of Life It is available fromand accompanies the UK TV series of the same name I just learned that it will not be released in the US until 7th May 2013 It will be worth the wait and you can pre order fromnow I read each of the five chapters following watching the TV programme each Sunday evening The book not only mirrors the fascinating content of each TV episode but adds much I highly recommend Professor Brian Cox s latest offering, released 24th January 2013 Wonders of Life It is available fromand accompanies the UK TV series of the same name I just learned that it will not be released in the US until 7th May 2013 It will be worth the wait and you can pre order fromnow I read each of the five chapters following watching the TV programme each Sunday evening The book not only mirrors the fascinating content of each TV episode but adds muchdetail than the one hour TV programme can accommodate A totally fascinating coverage which includes muchinformation plus lots of stunning photographs Following Cox s Wonders of the Solar System and Wonders of the Universe , this volume, Wonders of Life , completes a fascinating trilogy, simply explained and beautifully illustrated All three TV series are now also available to pre order as a boxed set on DVD Everyone should watch all of them and read the accompanying books They are worth every penny Understanding our solar system, the origin and destiny of the universe and the story of life on Earth is the most wonderful journey we could ever undertake Magical The good thing is, they have just announced a new series which starts filming in July 2013 Hope there will be another accompanying book How incredible Opening your eyes, mind and heart to all the complex creatures of the world Brian seems to have a knack for taking mind crunching concepts, and making them accessible, friendly and beautiful The images in this book, most notably, are illuminating of the concepts, but they also help to keep the concepts vivid and alive in the mind I feel this book taught me alot while I was reading it, but I also have a hunch that due to the combination of his images and words, I will remember How incredible Opening your eyes, mind and heart to all the complex creatures of the world Brian seems to have a knack for taking mind crunching concepts, and making them accessible, friendly and beautiful The images in this book, most notably, are illuminating of the concepts, but they also help to keep the concepts vivid and alive in the mind I feel this book taught me alot while I was reading it, but I also have a hunch that due to the combination of his images and words, I will remember many of these concepts post read which is not a common occurance for me, unfortunately The book is well worth adopting I can t say for sure, but I am atleast under the illusion this book made me smarter Brian definitely offers some interesting insights to wonderful world of biology The book is actually meant to accompany a TV series he did, also called Wonders of Life, so it had a number of pictures of the author in it, all of which I felt were a bit awkward He also reminded me of the one science teacher who hated me, on a personal level, because he thought I was stupid and a cheat since I m terrible at testing, but still get good grades on homework and in labs So for me, it was a bit hard Brian definitely offers some interesting insights to wonderful world of biology The book is actually meant to accompany a TV series he did, also called Wonders of Life, so it had a number of pictures of the author in it, all of which I felt were a bit awkward He also reminded me of the one science teacher who hated me, on a personal level, because he thought I was stupid and a cheat since I m terrible at testing, but still get good grades on homework and in labs So for me, it was a bit hard to read just because I kept hearing the words in the voice of this terrible teacher from my past The illustrations and pictures of everything else, besides the author, were a great teaching aid to the many topics Brian discussed I m very much a visual learner, so having visual references really helped me grasp whatever concept was being explained He did have a slight I m on a personal mission to disprove anything religious about life tone to some of his lectures, but nothing compared to J Craig Venter in Life at the Speed of Light An outstanding readThis really helps lift the veil on how life works and has evolved Essential reading if you care where we came from and about the state of the planet today.There really is so much to wonder and marvel at, we are so lucky to have the answers that past generations did not. I have not seen the TV show, but this is a horrible companion piece Very little thought was put into the medium The frantic back and forth is exhausting. Hunger Games returned me to reading fiction and story Just as Sagan s Cosmos, years earlier, took me away from the fantasy and sci fi books of my teen years Cosmos fascinated me My mind caught fire for the first time in a long time.We are made of star stuff.The book took my fragmented knowledge of physics and astronomy, and connected me very personally to concepts that previously seemed beyond my reach Science made accessible, but not condescending I was enthralled I readbooks on phy Hunger Games returned me to reading fiction and story Just as Sagan s Cosmos, years earlier, took me away from the fantasy and sci fi books of my teen years Cosmos fascinated me My mind caught fire for the first time in a long time.We are made of star stuff.The book took my fragmented knowledge of physics and astronomy, and connected me very personally to concepts that previously seemed beyond my reach Science made accessible, but not condescending I was enthralled I readbooks on physics and astronomy Then philosophy not as separate from science as I believedquest for knowledge using different tools Then history of physics and philosophy Then history I found the patterns and connections in my reading very comforting to a highly analytical mind Cause and effect.A couple of days ago, my Bookbub e mailer notified me that Wonders of Life was on sale on iBooks I knew nothing of the book The byline touted Brian Cox as the heir to Sagan I was intrigued and sceptical, but an asking price of 3 USD does not allow scepticism to intimidate the wallet Now, after reading, I would have gladly paid full price In fact, I am ordering a hardcover version because the illustrations and photos are amazing, and iBooks cannot do those correctly.Many of you probably already know Brian Cox I did not.Many of you have probably already seen the BBC s Wonders TV series I did not I do not watch or stream much TV.I was ignorant of both author and documentary, and started the book with no preconceptions other than Brian Cox hailed in some quarters as the next Carl Sagan Hmmph.As with Toad see below , I wasthan pleasantly surprised and hooked from the introductory anecdote that Doctor Cox shares of Richard Feynman Doctor Cox s wordsThe flower is made up of cells, single units with identical genes Hidden within are a multitude of biochemical machines, each highly specialised to perform complex tasks that keep the cell alive Some contain chloroplasts, once free living bacteria, co opted into capturing light from the Sun and using it to assemble food from carbon dioxide and water There are mitochondria, factories that pump protons up energy waterfalls and insert organic waterwheels into the ensuing cascade to assemble ATP molecules the universal batteries of life And there is DNA, a molecule with a code embedded in its structure that carries the instructions to assemble the flower, but also contains fragments of the story of the origin and evolution of all life on Earth, from its beginnings 3.8 billion years ago to the endless forms most beautiful that have transformed a once sterile world into the grandest possible expression of the laws of nature This is beauty way beyond the aesthetic that, as Feynman concluded, only adds to the excitement and mystery and the awe of a flower It only adds I don t understand how it subtracts Yes, indeed, quite possibly the next Carl Sagan Or, better yet, the first Brian Cox with the ability to communicate complex and fascinating concepts in a way that everyone can enjoy without feeling patronised.The next paragraph in the introduction anticipated another doubt How does a particle physicist write about biology The remainder of the book squelched that doubt A brilliant book Biology and physics are not completely separate Branches of the same tree The Tree of Knowledge The Tree of Science.The author providesthan interesting facts and connections He conveys a reverential awe of and deep respect for his subject, LIFEDeeper understanding confers that most precious thing wonder He borrows a thought provoking question from Erwin Schrodinger of cat lover fameor notoriety and moves the question from religious and philosophical territory on to a scientific foundationWhat is Life How can the events in space and time, which take place within the spatial boundary of a living organism, be accounted for by physics and chemistry He then explores both factual and mythical Frankenstein exploits, the laws of thermodynamics, fuel cells and jellyfish allowing the reader to breathlessly or carefully follow to the reader s own conclusions.I devoured this book Completed it in a single sitting The book is not long and there are lots of sublime graphics Again, digital forms of the book will not do justice to the graphics The first graphic of a Fibonacci spiral detailing the history of the earth and evolution is incredible I have never seen information on evolution so elegantly and simply displayed Doctor Cox does not elaborate on the graphic, but one could spend a lot of time trying to digest it all I did But lately, finishing a book, even a graphic novel, in a single go has been unusual for me Too much stress and noise in my life to clear space for reading This book was an exception.An author of fiction uses plot to build suspense and usually ends a chapter with a cliffhanger to keep the reader turning pages With this book, the reader s mind wants to understandand , and continue to make the connections that the author offers No better page turner than understanding and comprehension I get it I never knew that And as the author mentioned, after understanding, Wonder ensues It is addicting.Surprisingly, when I closed the book, I felt that same sense of sad goodbye that I have felt reading my favorite novels.Evenimportantly, I felt a deep appreciation for the rarity and gift of lifea connection to life Life is precious.A great introduction to Brian Cox for me I will be reading , and his books will be placed on the shelf next to Carl Sagan s, who awakened a part of my mind that has provided much satisfaction in my life.The book s complementary quote to the earlier quote from Sagan s Cosmos This is because you share a common ancestor with grass You are related You were once the same.The soundtrack or, songs that came to mind as I read Forest Fire I loved this band as a teenager They made independent of whatever mood besets me my favorite ever music recording which provided the emotional soundscape to an iconic scene in a classic 80s coming of or notforever young age film The scene and the song held so much emotional relevance for me More recently, the 12 single difficult to find once given up was gifted to me for Christmas A priceless and meaningful gift that accompanied a collection of letters from my favorite painter An amazing first date in his homeland museum.But I digress Typical me In the early 90s, while I was finishing university, I was beginning to understand the word environment for the first time.Many were fighting to save the rain forests of South and Central America long before Cameron s trip to Pandora We, as a society, worried about depletion of the ozone layer The U.S Clean Air Act of 1990 greatly limited the use of CFCs Just after the Act was amended, a visiting professor at a monthly engineering seminar statedMount Pinatubo didto destroy the ozone layer than everything man has done since the beginning of the industrial ageI raised my hand and asked if that was an excuse for us to also recklessly contribute as a few billion mini volcanoes The dean was not happy That is the vein of this song And although the book never explicitly mentions environmentalism, few texts have better conveyed the preciousness and rarity of lifeALL lifeand how interconnected all life is.Now, we at least some of we speak of global warming Some of us and I am guilty in my tired middle age know that we will not pay the price for our irresponsibility, or we hope that technology will again save us from the brink of disaster Whether global warming is a cyclical progression of Mother Earth or caused principally by humanity, Mother will survive We may not Life is also fragile The Minnow and the Trout Live The video is shaky and microphones in 2008 were not that dynamic, but I enjoyed her banter before singing Fenicotteri In the park The sentiment of this song summarizes the book so perfectly for me Please, I know that we re differentWe were one cell in the sea in the beginningAnd what we re made of was all the same onceWe re not that different after allWe are tied in historyConnected like a familyWe can learn We can change We can berespectful and aware of all the life around us in all of its fascinating varieties.We are different, but as the book explains so lucidly not as different, physiologically, as we might think Humans and grass Life Is Beautiful The song surely isabout internal emotional structure than biology, but this is the song that came to mind first as I read the book and began to feel the grandeur of life and its complexity And for this book, the cover art of the song s album seemsthan appropriate.I saw Toad opening for The Origin in 1992, months before All I Want became hugely popular on college then mainstream radio My friends and I knew nothing of the band and were not expecting much With a name like that, a kitsch band at best A Weird Al Yankovic clone at worst We were absolutely stunned The song quality The musicianship The energy The emotion We each left the venue with Toad s complete discography to date, and their music has been a constant in my life since.Life is beautiful When I have eyes to see No one with even just a passing interest in nature and biology will not find this book and the associated BBC TV series fascinating and splendid Designed to explain complicated concepts of biochemistry and microbiology to laymen like myself, do not expect full blown technical detail and scientific formulas, those can be found in reference books elsewhere Rather, this superb, concise book is a jumping off point for further investigation into the major questions it attempts to answer, like what No one with even just a passing interest in nature and biology will not find this book and the associated BBC TV series fascinating and splendid Designed to explain complicated concepts of biochemistry and microbiology to laymen like myself, do not expect full blown technical detail and scientific formulas, those can be found in reference books elsewhere Rather, this superb, concise book is a jumping off point for further investigation into the major questions it attempts to answer, like what basic chemical and physical properties constitute and govern life forms, how the elements come together to become the building blocks of organisms, how the main senses of hearing, smell and sight evolved, and allometry, or the study of the scale of life, etc One of the main threads running through the book is how all life on Earth is deeply related and connected to one another, from the smallest bacteria to plants and whales, so evident in the history written in all our DNA, which is shared by all organisms to some extent Every form of life is merely various combinations and manifestations of the same basic elements and molecules, all with their origin in the creation of stars and formation of planets How such highly organized and complex physical structures came to exist out of the chaos of the stars is another big question that the book explores To be sure, there are many instances where discussions appear to be cut off midway and explanations not carried through to a satisfactory conclusion, but this is no doubt due to the book being based on a TV series, which has a very limited time to focus on each topic, for fear of losing the attention of fickle viewers But this also gives the book sufficient variety and attention grabbing visuals and scenes, which work to its advantage Beautiful photographs of the myriad creatures and exotic locales featured in the film, and helpful explanatory graphics can be found throughout that enhance its appeal and are an added bonus Both book and series are highly recommended


About the Author: Brian Cox

Not to be confused with actor Author Brian Cox.Brian Edward Cox, OBE born 3 March 1968 is a British particle physicist, a Royal Society University Research Fellow, PPARC Advanced Fellow and Professor at the University of Manchester He is a member of the High Energy Physics group at the University of Manchester, and works on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider LHC at CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland He is working on the RD project of the FP420 experiment in an international collaboration to upgrade the ATLAS and the CMS experiment by installing additional, smaller detectors at a distance of 420 metres from the interaction points of the main experiments.He is best known to the public as the presenter of a number of science programmes for the BBC, boosting the popularity of subjects such as astronomy so is a science popularizer, and science communicator He also had some fame in the 1990s as the keyboard player for the pop band D Ream.


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