Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life

Power Sex Suicide Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life If it weren t for mitochondria scientists argue we d all still be single celled bacteria Indeed these tiny structures inside our cells are important beyond imagining Without mitochondria we would

  • Title: Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life
  • Author: Nick Lane
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 304
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • If it weren t for mitochondria, scientists argue, we d all still be single celled bacteria Indeed, these tiny structures inside our cells are important beyond imagining Without mitochondria, we would have no cell suicide, no sculpting of embryonic shape, no sexes, no menopause, no aging In this fascinating and thought provoking book, Nick Lane brings together the latesIf it weren t for mitochondria, scientists argue, we d all still be single celled bacteria Indeed, these tiny structures inside our cells are important beyond imagining Without mitochondria, we would have no cell suicide, no sculpting of embryonic shape, no sexes, no menopause, no aging In this fascinating and thought provoking book, Nick Lane brings together the latest research in this exciting field to show how our growing insight into mitochondria has shed light on how complex life evolved, why sex arose why don t we just bud , and why we age and die These findings are of fundamental importance, both in understanding life on Earth, but also in controlling our own illnesses, and delaying our degeneration and death Readers learn that two billion years ago, mitochondria were probably bacteria living independent lives and that their capture within larger cells was a turning point in the evolution of life, enabling the development of complex organisms Lane describes how mitochondria have their own DNA and that its genes mutate much faster than those in the nucleus This high mutation rate lies behind our aging and certain congenital diseases The latest research suggests that mitochondria play a key role in degenerative diseases such as cancer We also discover that mitochondrial DNA is passed down almost exclusively via the female line That s why it has been used by some researchers to trace human ancestry daughter to mother, to Mitochondrial Eve, giving us vital information about our evolutionary history Written by Nick Lane, a rising star in popular science, Power, Sex, Suicide is the first book for general readers on the nature and function of these tiny, yet fascinating structures.

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    About “Nick Lane

    • Nick Lane

      Dr Nick Lane is a British biochemist and writer He was awarded the first Provost s Venture Research Prize in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London, where he is now a Reader in Evolutionary Biochemistry Dr Lane s research deals with evolutionary biochemistry and bioenergetics, focusing on the origin of life and the evolution of complex cells Dr Lane was a founding member of the UCL Consortium for Mitochondrial Research, and is leading the UCL Research Frontiers Origins of Life programme He was awarded the 2011 BMC Research Award for Genetics, Genomics, Bioinformatics and Evolution, and the 2015 Biochemical Society Award for his sustained and diverse contribution to the molecular life sciences and the public understanding of science.Nick Lane is the author of three acclaimed books on evolutionary biochemistry, which have sold than 100,000 copies worldwide, and have been translated into 20 languages.Nick s first book, Oxygen The Molecule that Made the World OUP, 2002 is a sweeping history of the relationship between life and our planet, and the paradoxical ways in which adaptations to oxygen play out in our own lives and deaths It was selected as one of the Sunday Times Books of the Year for 2002.His second book, Power, Sex, Suicide Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life OUP, 2005 is an exploration of the extraordinary effects that mitochondria have had on the evolution of complex life It was selected as one of The Economist s Books of the Year for 2005, and shortlisted for the 2006 Royal Society Aventis Science Book Prize and the Times Higher Young Academic Author of the Year Award.Nick s most recent book, Life Ascending The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution Profile Norton 2009 is a celebration of the inventiveness of life, and of our own ability to read the deep past to reconstruct the history of life on earth The great inventions are the origin of life, DNA, photosynthesis, the complex cell, sex, movement, sight, hot blood, consciousness and death Life Ascending won the 2010 Royal Society Prize for Science Books, and was named a Book of the Year by New Scientist, Nature, the Times and the Independent, the latter describing him as one of the most exciting science writers of our time Nick s next book, due to be published in 2015 by Norton and Profile, is entitled The Vital Question Why is life the way it is It will attack a central problem in biology why did complex life arise only once in four billion years, and why does all complex life share so many peculiar properties, from sex and speciation to senescence Nick was also a co editor of Life in the Frozen State CRC Press, 2004 , the first major text book on cryobiology in the genomic era.Peer reviewed articles by Nick Lane have been published in top international journals, including Nature, Science and Cell, and he has published many features in magazines like New Scientist and Scientific American He has appeared regularly on TV and radio, and speaks in schools and at literary and science festivals He also worked for several years in the pharmaceutical industry, ultimately as Strategic Director of Medi Cine, a medical multimedia company based in London, where he was responsible for developing interactive approaches to medical education.Nick is married to Dr Ana Hidalgo Simon and lives in London with their two young sons, Eneko and Hugo He spent many years clinging to rock faces in search of fossils and thrills, but his practical interest in palaeontology is rarely rewarded with than a devil s toenail When not climbing, writing or hunting for wild campsites, he can occasionally be found playing the fiddle in London pubs with the Celtic ensemble Probably Not, or exploring Romanesque churchesck lane About%20Nick

    1000 thoughts on “Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life

    • The subtitle of the book says “Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life” and the author tries very hard to match up to that high claim. The book promises to show us why mitochondria are the clandestine rulers of our world - the masters of power, sex, and suicide. In the end It does not quiet explain the meaning of life in the traditional terms but does put forward a very strong argument that life as we know it today owes a lot to those little symbiotes that inhabit every single cell in us. Yes, [...]

    • Well, that was three days of dense, chewy fun that nonetheless did not quite break my teeth. If you have survived high school science, you can probably take this on and follow its arguments pretty well.Molecular biology is probably one of the fastest-moving sciences of the early twenty-first century, and in writing a popular-style book about it, Lane is in the position of a man trying to shovel his driveway while it's still snowing. He makes a statement about Neanderthal genetics on page one, fo [...]

    • This is a fabulous book, which I recommend to everybody with a strong interest in biology. Nick Lane is a working scientist, a biochemist, with a very impressive list of publications. His articles and books, written for the non-specialist, have won many awards.The book focuses on the science, and is written almost like a detective story. Nick Lane continually asks "why" things happen the way they do. Sometimes he speculates on the answers, but he always clearly describes the logic he uses to ded [...]

    • This is an absolutely amazing book, one of the most informational things I've read in years. The down-side is that I found it difficult, intellectually, and I have a degree in the subject. I think if I didn't know microbiology, it would be overwhelming. But with that said, the book's focus is on the relationship between eukaryotic cells and their mitochondria. It covers two different scenarios in how archaeobacteria and bacteria may have merged to form eukaryotes (gradual symbiosis as a result o [...]

    • In high school I learned that mitochondria were the powerhouses of the cell. They were once a seperate entity that somehow came to live inside another. They still have their own DNA and genes, divide on their own, and manage their own interests.While all of this is technically correct, the truth is much more subtle and amazing.They are our powerhouses. They are also the defining reason we have two sexes and not one/zero (or 28,000), and they exterminate damaged and unruly cells (hence the title) [...]

    • Lane packs a lot of science into this excellent presentation of the origin and functioning of mitochondria. While the density may put off some readers, those with a strong interest in cell biology and evolution should enjoy it. Lane posits that symbiosis, not just natural section, is what enabled complex life to form. He points specifically to endosymbiosis, the theory that bacteria were transformed into mitochondria after being engulfed by archaea. Lane holds that unique circumstances make this [...]

    • By page 12, I've learned that an adult human hosts around 10 million billion mitochondria, which are the size of bacteria (1 to 4 microns). Mitochondria make up about 10% of our body weight! I had no idea.By page 17, Nick Lane has outlined his case that mitochondria are the secret "masters of power, sex and suicide." Which is a *great* title.Life on Earth began perhaps 4 billion years ago, right after the Late Heavy Bombardment, or about as early as it could. It stalled at the single-cell bacter [...]

    • This isn’t really an easy read unless you already have a good background in molecular biology. Nonetheless, it’s a very fascinating subject and the author tries painstakingly to make it easier for the reader to understand the subject. Ok, so here’s my simple summary:Mitochondria: They used to be bacteria that lived independently. Then they formed a symbiotic relationship with another one-celled organism. The combination eventually evolved into eukaryotes (cells with nucleus). All complex l [...]

    • A perfectly interesting read, but absolutely not suitable as beach read. Left at about 2/3's when I started the Newsflesh trilogy instead. Two vacations later, I realize, that I'm never going to finish. The book in itself is absolutely readable and my failure to finish is not its fault. I even remember something interesting from it: mitochondria has only been incorporated into cells once during life's existence on earth. Some cells don't have mitochondria, that's true, but that's because they've [...]

    • An extremely informative book about the role of mitochondria in evolution. The author explains complex concepts in terms that make them very understandable. I came away learning a vast amount about the function of mitochondria and in the process quite a few of the scientific factoids that float around the diet research world about antioxidants, exercise, and uncoupling started to make sense. This isn't a one idea book, like so many science bestsellers. You'll have to read it slowly and carefully [...]

    • [11/17/2012; edited 12/11/12]This was a fascinating book. As a severe non-scientist, I sometimes had a little trouble wading through the detailed explanation of how cells work. I sometimes got frustrated with the level of detail, wanting to get the bigger picture. And sometimes he explained the same thing in several different ways, with different metaphors, and different approaches. But it was worth it.I don't know the author's background, but I felt he was like a particularly committed teacher, [...]

    • Flipping brilliant! Finally someone writes something decent and meaningful about Mitochondria. It's like five hundred unanswered small questions about how things work (or may have worked) on a basic level just clicked into place. Being that I also have a massive obsession with evolution and have always found this smaller scale to be a bit sticky this book really ticks all the boxes! Nick Lane really gets his audience. I read a lot of popular science, and I know a number of people who do likewise [...]

    • I've always liked mitochondria ever since reading A Wind In The Door.Power Sex Suicide is an incredibly dense but fascinating book that makes the fantasies of that fiction book seem tame. Nick Lane contends that mitochondria are responsible for all life more advanced that bacteria, for sex, for cell death, for aging and death. It is also the first time I've had to think about redox reactions since high school chemistry (fortunately, it wasn't as hard as it was back then). The scope of his claims [...]

    • A book about endosymbiotic theory. It was long suspected that eukaryotic cells were the result of a bacterial merger. However, the theory wasn't widely known until Lynn Marguilis's 1967 paper. The evidence that mitochondria come from bacterial ancestry includes:-mitochondria posses their own genome-antibiotics can affect translation in bacteria as well as mitochondria-new mitochondria are formed via a process similar to binary fission.-mitochondria have several enzymes and transport systems simi [...]

    • The pass from procariota to eucariota very difficult ocurring only once in our planet , another argument in favor of our loneliness in this wonderful and ill preserved planet

    • The book centers around Mitochondria. Mitochondria are rod-shaped organelles that can be considered the power generators of the cell, converting oxygen and nutrients into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the chemical energy "currency" of the cell that powers the cell's metabolic activities. Science is working on figuring out how to cure cancers and other diseases by tapping into the Mitochondria. Free radicals attack and distort mitochondria. Supplements do not stop free radicals according t [...]

    • Excellent book! However, it requires a background in biology or at least a vague understanding of cellular physiology. My expertise lies in a related field although I have been highly interested in evolutionary biology ever since I read The Selfish Gene. Every author of similar science books has a different take on various aspects of life on earth as we know it, and this is what makes reading them so compelling (albeit confusing!) The first 20% of the book was the best part where Lane describes [...]

    • This book was dense and difficult, but I feel like I learned a semester’s worth of material in 300 pages. Absolutely fascinating and illuminating. Very highly recommended!

    • (4.0) Interesting exploration of the origin of life, especially eukaryotesAt times Lane seems to get a little too mitochondria-specific (e.g. claiming that many early miscarriages are due to incompatibility between nuclear and mitochondrial genes, arguing that sperm cells have few mitochondria because the mitochondria will be killed upon fertilization and not able to reproduce--but ALL male mitochondria will die fact the ONLY hope for a male's mitochondria to be passed on is through fertilizatio [...]

    • This book is a nice trip through many issues of Biology like the origin of life and the eukaryotic cells, the appearance of multicelular cells, the ways how energy is produced by the cells and the rise of sex, ageing and death in eukaryotic beings (just to say a few subjects), all from the perspective of small organelles called mitochondria. It's a wonderful and well-written work that attempts to see all these issues from new perspectives and popularizes many theories like the hydrogen hypothesi [...]

    • I thought this book was approachable despite my complete ignorance on the subject. I found the analogies and diagrams helpful in visualizing the many processes of mitochondria and Mr. Lane presents information that kept me busy thinking for many nights. There were a few concepts that had gotten away from me however the bulk of information was crystal clear with plenty of history and process explained.

    • El mejor libro que he leído en mucho tiempoEl título parece un poco jactancioso a primera vista. Pero no, en realidad el libro explica muy bien el origen de todo lo que enumera: el poder, el sexo, el suicidio y en parte también el orígen y sentido de la vida. Todos estos conceptos giran en torno a esos pequeños componentes en nuestras células llamados mitocondrias.

    • Everything a general reader would like to know about the origins of (complex) life, and why we might owe it all to mitochondria. Nick Lane managed to make sometimes-dense 321 pages a joy to read. The writing is smart, engaging and entertaining. This is, along The Selfish Gene, probably one of best science books I've ever read.

    • Energy, sex, death and life, or as the author puts it, "Power, sex and suicide, mitochondria and the meaning of life". When put like that, the subject matter of this book sounds pretty ambitious and almost farcical, but as the author Nick Lane demonstrates throughout the book, mitochondria are indeed involved in all of these processes within almost all eukaryotes. Often touted as the powerhouse of the cell in high school biology class, mitochondria are in actuality a very complex organelle with [...]

    • This was heavy going, especially since I have always learnt bits mad pieces of biology in what I've read ratherntahnthrough formal education (even at school, I think). But it was well worth the effort. The most interesting part for me was the theories on how mitochondria came to be part of the cells they now inhabit, a story that starts with the inorganic origin of life and culminating in perhaps the only development of advanced, intelligent life in the universe (perhaps). From this the book the [...]

    • This book was fascinating! It was just one interesting concept after another. Some science writers write to entertain, and some write to inform. Nick Lane is definitely writing to inform, and you don't see his "personality" in much of his writing, but it was so interesting that I didn't feel like any extra spunk was needed. Lane writes in a very comprehensive way. He also frequently summarizes and restates, which might drive some people crazy, but I liked that he continually reminded me of the m [...]

    • Great book. I'd recommend to anyone looking for some answers about the biological nature of the two sexes, whether physiological aspects or chromosomal point of view. However, I must say that the book simply tells some insights only, no major answers in particular, which could be annoying because the title and the chapters somehow mislead the reader into believing that the book has actual solid and tangible answers. Well, it doesn't. The book simply cites what we know, as mankind, and obviously, [...]

    • The reviews of Jafar and Tasha on this book are excellent, so I recommend reading them for very clear summaries about what the subject is. The book is written for a general reader who has some science education, but one must have a 12th grade reading level, not the usual 8th grade level most books aim for these days. The book literally fills in the blanks that are left out of science magazine articles on the cell. Along the way, as the processes of the cell are described, some bigger philosophic [...]

    • This book was recommended to me by several AP Biology teachers as a good background to help prepare students for the AP Biology test and college. It's NOT a test-prep book. Instead, it delves into the mitochondria and the evolution of the eukaryotic cell. This is a key concept in biology, and this book uses lots of current research to explain evolutionary probabilities. It is a dense read - lots of complex big science words, however not as bad as a textbook. Perhaps not the best-seller for the m [...]

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