Life's Ratchet
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“In Life’s Ratchet, biophysicist Peter Hoffmann reveals that the secret to life isn’t some mysterious force. Rather, it is chaos itself. Hoffmann provides a ringside perspective on life at its most fundamental level, gained through his work on imaging and manipulating molecules.”
New Scientist

Life’s Ratchet engagingly tells the story of how science has begun to realize the potential for matter to spontaneously construct complex processes, such as those inherent to living systems. The book is a good mix of history and the latest concepts, straightforwardly explained…. [T]he book’s important message is that there is a revolution brewing. This revolution will not tell us what matter is made of. Instead, as described in Life’s Ratchet, it will tell us how matter and energy combine to make me and you.”
Nature

“A fascinating mix of cutting-edge science with philosophy and theology.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“By blending the laws of physics with the principles of biology, Hoffmann…explain[s] how molecules give rise to living organisms…. The biological mechanisms he describes are from the cutting edge of the discipline.”
—Publishers Weekly

Life’s Ratchet is one of those rare books that pay off one of science’s central promises:  reductionism can explain higher-order phenomenon. While Hoffmann is careful to say that nanoscience hasn’t explained what life is, he demonstrates that it can explain how life works from the bottom up. This is big news, and the exciting reward that Life’s Ratchet provides. Hoffman’s magic is his ability to plumb the depths of his topic with trenchant metaphors and realistic examples. He is one of those rare scientific experts who can convey, accurately and with verve, the big picture and the small.”
—John Long, Professor of Biology, Vassar College, and author of Darwin’s Devices

“Peter Hoffmann brings the universe of the very small to life. Life’s Ratchet is an exciting guide to the wondrous strange nanoworld of molecules driving the machinery of life. Engaging, provocative, and profound.”
—Werner R. Loewenstein, author of The Touchstone of Life and Physics in Mind

Copyright © 2012 by Basic Books