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About the book
  • Published: 31 January 2019
  • ISBN: 9780241309605
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook

The Demon in the Machine

How Hidden Webs of Information Are Finally Solving the Mystery of Life




An astonishing new contribution to our ongoing quest for the secret of life itself.

When Darwin set out to explain the origin of species, he made no attempt to answer the deeper question: what is life?

For generations, scientists have struggled to make sense of this fundamental question. Life really does look like magic: even a humble bacterium accomplishes things so dazzling that no human engineer can match it. And yet, huge advances in molecular biology over the past few decades have served only to deepen the mystery. So can life be explained by known physics and chemistry, or do we need something fundamentally new?

In this penetrating and wide-ranging new analysis, world-renowned physicist and science communicator Paul Davies searches for answers in a field so new and fast-moving that it lacks a name, a domain where computing, chemistry, quantum physics and nanotechnology intersect. At the heart of these diverse fields, Davies explains, is the concept of information: a quantity with the power to unify biology with physics, transform technology and medicine, and even to illuminate the age-old question of whether we are alone in the universe.

From life's murky origins to the microscopic engines that run the cells of our bodies, The Demon in the Machine is a breath-taking journey across the landscape of physics, biology, logic and computing. Weaving together cancer and consciousness, two-headed worms and bird navigation, Davies reveals how biological organisms garner and process information to conjure order out of chaos, opening a window on the secret of life itself.

  • Pub date: 31 January 2019
  • ISBN: 9780241309605
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook

About the Author

Paul Davies

Paul Davies is a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist, author and broadcaster. On 1 September 2006 Paul Davies will take up a new position as college professor at Arizona State University, the largest public university campus in the USA. He will have the distinctive assignment to establish a new centre on foundational questions in science, to encompass cosmology, life, astrobiology and philosophy - a think tank for addressing complex issues in these areas.He has achieved an international reputation for his ability to explain the significance of advanced scientific ideas in simple language. He is the author of some twenty-five books including The Mind of God, The Last Three Minutes and How to Build a Time Machine. Among other awards he has won the Templeton Prize, The Royal Society's Michael Faraday Prize for science communication and a Glaxo Science Writers' Fellowship. In April 1999 the asteroid 1992 OG was officially named (6870) Pauldavies in his honour. Davies has extensive experience in all facets of the media. He writes regularly for newspapers, journals and magazines in several countries. Notable among his contributions to radio are a series of documentaries on BBC Radio 3, and his television work has ranged from chat shows to scripting and presenting various documentaries, including his own series entitled The Big Questions and More Big Questions. Committed to bringing science to the wider public, Davies engages in a heavy program of public lecturing around the world, addressing scientific and religious topics. As a supporter of the arts, he is also frequently involved in literary and artistic events both in Australia and internationally. The recipient of many awards and commendations, Davies won the Eureka Prize in 1991 for the promotion of science in Australia, and in 1993 he was presented with an Advance Australia Award for outstanding contributions to science. In 1995 Davies was awarded the Templeton Prize for progress in religion, the world's largest prize for intellectual endeavour.

Paul Davies is married, and has four children. He remains a British citizen. In addition to his passion for both traditional and contemporary art, he is interested in the history of the second world war, politics and economics. He also enjoys keeping fit and discussing geographical trivia.

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