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

Overview


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 latest research in this exciting field to show how our growing insight into mitochondria has shed light on how ...

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Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the meaning of life: Mitochondria and the meaning of life

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Overview


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 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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Full of startling insights into the nature and evolution of life as we know it."--The Economist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199205646
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/11/2006
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 316,833
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 7.58 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Nick Lane is an honorary senior research fellow at University College, London. His first book, Oxygen: the Molecule that made the World, was published to critical acclaim by Oxford University Press in 2002.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Mitochondria - clandestine rulers of the world
2. Hopeful monster - the origin of the eukaryotic cell
3. The vital force: Proton power and the origin of life
4. Insider deal: Why mitochondria are needed for the evolution of complexity
5. Power laws: Size and the ramp of ascending complexity
6. Power, sex, suicide: The troubled birth of the individual
7. Battle of the sexes: Human prehistory and the nature of gender
8. Clock of life: Why mitochondria kill us in the end

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 6, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    This is Simply, a Great Book

    I'm a writer and when I'm writing fiction I read non-fiction because if I read fiction I'm comparing and contrasting and doubting and admiring and stealing and doing things that don't enhance the chances of my finishing my project.

    Usually I rip through a history or science book, but Nick Lane's book made me slow down and adopt a new way of thinking about the underpinnings, evolution, and future of Life.

    Yes, capital "L" Life.

    This is a watershed book. I have to buy another copy because of the bent over pages, underlining, and margin notes.

    A book that (at least for me) needed to be studied the first time through.

    Rob Loughran
    rjploughran55@gmail.com

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2008

    A reviewer

    While rather scientific, the author's description of the powerhouse of the cell, the mitochondria, is fascinating. The role of the mitochondria and evolution demonstrates the impact on mitochondrial disease and the future of mitochondrial medicine. Patients need support until the disease is better understood...until then, they have MitoAction.org

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted November 15, 2009

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    Posted March 16, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2009

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