Every Life is on Fire: How Thermodynamics Explains the Origins of Living Things

Jeremy England. Basic, $28 (272p) ISBN 978-1-5416-9901-4
England, a physicist and rabbi, debuts with an ambitious but disappointing multidisciplinary inquiry into the origin and meaning of life. Interested in the question of how life is differentiated from nonlife, he asks what physics can reveal about “when and how things that are not alive start to become more lifelike.” England also moves into the philosophical and theological realms, addressing such questions as “Are humans simply animals, or something more?” with guidance from the Hebrew Bible. However, the bulk of the book deals with physics, including entropy, the nature of time, and energy flow, as well as his own hypothesis “that building blocks with diverse possible response properties to a given drive should spontaneously organize themselves to either reduce their energy absorption or else direct it into powering orderly, regular motion.” Amid all this, biology is often lost. Similarly, though each chapter begins with a quotation from Exodus or Genesis, these are only fleetingly integrated into the text. Those attracted by England’s lofty premise are unlikely to be satisfied by the diffuse execution. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/23/2020
Release date: 09/15/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-3365-7
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