“What is life?” is a linguistic trap. To answer according to the rules of grammar, we must supply a noun, a thing. But life on Earth is more like a verb. It is a material process, surfing over matter like a strange slow wave. It is a controlled artistic chaos, a set of chemical reactions so staggeringly complex that more than 4 billion years ago it began a sojourn that now, in human form, composes love letters and uses silicon computers to calculate the temperature of matter at the birth of the universe.
“What is life?” is a scientific and philosophical exploration. Along the way, it explores the opposite question – what is death?; as well as delves into the origins of life; Earth’s status as a superorganism; the biological connection between programmed death and sex; the symbiotic evolution of the five organic kingdoms (bacteria, protoctists, animals, fungi,and plants); the solar basis of our global economy; and the startling suggestion that life, not just human life, is free to act and has played an unexpectedly large part in its own evolution.
Lynn Margulis (5 de Marzo de 1938 – 22 de Noviembre de 2011)