book hack

What Is Life?

Paul Nurse

5 mins

3 key insights

Visual, audio & text

What is Life? answers one of our biggest questions by exploring the building blocks of biology and chemistry.


What Is Life?

What Is Life?

by Paul Nurse


You might think of biology as confined to high school science lessons or high-tech labs, but biology is a constant part of our everyday lives.

The Nobel-Prize-winning geneticist Sir Paul Nurse is best known for his discovery of the cdc2 gene in fission yeast. Nurse's work has provided critical answers on cell growth and division. This has had wide-ranging implications for research on serious diseases caused by abnormal growth.

In 2021's What is Life?, Nurse utilizes his own experiences, along with famous experimental findings, to highlight the role biology plays in everyday living. The book is spilt between five great scientific discoveries: the cell, the gene, evolution by natural selection, life as chemistry, and life as information. Through a combination of well-known facts and their lesser-known backstories, Nurse urges us to learn more of life's inner workings. By doing so, we may better understand the changes that happen in and around us.

Favorite quote

Life on Earth belongs to a single, vastly interconnected ecosystem ... This fundamental connectedness comes not only from their deep interdependency, but also from the fact that all life is genetically related.

- Paul Nurse

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