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  • Published: 4 April 2013
  • ISBN: 9780141970226
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 256


The Origin of Life / The Future of Life

The up-and-coming star of BBC science provides a gripping solution to the mystery of life on earth and introduces the astonishing new field of 'living technology'

THE ORIGIN OF LIFE: What is life? Where did it come from? In what form did it first appear? And how?

Every creature, plant and cell that has ever inhabited the Earth owes its existence to the emergence, some four billion years ago, of a single life-form: the first ever living being, from which all other life subsequently evolved. Drawing on recent and dramatic advances in experimental biology, The Origin of Life takes us on a gripping, four-billion-year journey of discovery to explain exactly how such a thing could have happened. From interplanetary collisions to the inner-workings of cells and genes, it offers answers to the very grandest of questions before arriving at a thrilling solution to the greatest detective story of them all.

THE FUTURE OF LIFE: Introducing a new chapter in human history: living technology.

Our mastery of genetics now allows us to create entirely new life-forms within the laboratory - goats that produce spider silk in their milk, bacteria that excrete diesel, cells that identify and destroy tumours - offering tailor-made solutions to the crises of food shortage, pandemic disease and climate change. These living technologies can be downloaded for free or bought online in strands of ready-made DNA, using the equipment available in most student laboratories. But much remains unknown and this revolutionary technology is fraught with controversy, not least the fear of bioterrorism. The Future of Life introduces us to these remarkable innovations, explains how they work, explores the risks as well as the possibilities they afford, and presents a powerful argument for their benefit to humankind.

  • Published: 4 April 2013
  • ISBN: 9780141970226
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 256

About the author

Adam Rutherford

Adam Rutherford is an award-winning geneticist, writer and broadcaster. His books include Creation (2014), The Book of Humans (2018), and the best-selling A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived (2016). He has written and presented numerous documentaries for BBC radio and television, including Inside Science and The Cell. Adam has also worked as a science consultant on the Oscar-winning films Ex-Machina (2015) and Annihilation (2018).

Also by Adam Rutherford

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Praise for Creation

A superbly written explanation of how the origin of life on Earth became a question for science, and what the answer might be

Brian Cox

One of the most eloquent and genuinely thoughtful books on science over the past decade ... You will not find a better, more balanced or up-to-date take on either the origin of life or synthetic biology ... Essential reading for anyone interested in the coming revolution, which could indeed rival the Industrial Revolution or the internet

Nick Lane, Observer

Prepare to be astounded. There are moments when this book is so gripping it reads like a thriller. Fascinating

Mail on Sunday

This is a quite delightful two books in one. It is becoming increasingly clear that the 21st is the century of biology. This book is the perfect "story so far"

Jim Al-Khalili, author of Paradox

An engaging account of both the mystery of life's origin and its impending resolution, as well as a fascinating glimpse of the impending birth of a new, synthetic biology

Matt Ridley, author of Genome

A witty, engaging and eye-opening explanation of the basic units of life, right back to our common ancestors and on to their incredible synthetic future. The mark of a really good science book, it shows that the questions we still have are just as exciting as the answers we already know

Dara O Briain

In this book of two halves, Rutherford tells the epic history of life on earth, and eloquently argues the case for embracing technology which allows us to become biological designers

Alice Roberts

The perfect primer on the past and future of DNA ... Rutherford tells his stories with great brio and a disarming line in personal commentary


I warmly recommend Creation. Rutherford's academic background in genetics gives him a firm grasp of the intricacies of biochemistry - and he translates these superbly into clear English

Financial Times

Fascinating ... The extraordinary science and his argument are worth every reader's scrutiny

Sunday Telegraph

Suspenseful, erudite and thrilling


A fascinating glimpse into our past and future ... [Rutherford] argues persuasively against those who seek to hold back scientific progress. His illuminating book is full of optimism about what we might be able to achieve

Sunday Times

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