The Touchstone of Life

The Touchstone of Life : Molecular Information, Cell Communication, and the Foundations of Life

3.88 (17 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

No one can escape a sense of wonder when looking at an organism from within. From the humblest amoeba to man, from the smallest cell organelle to the amazing human brain, life presents us with example after example of highly ordered cellular matter, precisely organized and shaped to perform coordinated functions. But where does this order spring from? How does a living organism manage to do what nonliving things cannot do--bring forth and maintain all that order against the unrelenting, disordering pressures of the universe? In The Touchstone of Life, world-renowned biophysicist Werner Loewenstein seeks answers to these ancient riddles by applying information theory to recent discoveries in molecular biology. Taking us into a fascinating microscopic world, he lays bare an all-pervading communication network inside and between our cells--a web of extraordinary beauty, where molecular information flows in gracefully interlaced circles. Loewenstein then takes us on an exhilarating journey along that web and we meet its leading actors, the macromolecules, and see how they extract order out of the erratic quantum world; and through the powerful lens of information theory, we are let in on their trick, the most dazzling of magician's acts, whereby they steal form out of formlessness. The Touchstone of Life flashes with fresh insights into the mystery of life. Boldly straddling the line between biology and physics, the book offers a breathtaking view of that hidden world where molecular information turns the wheels of life. Loewenstein makes these complex scientific subjects lucid and fascinating, as he sheds light on the most fundamental aspects of our existence.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 388 pages
  • 154 x 234 x 26mm | 557.92g
  • Oxford University Press, USA
  • United States
  • English
  • Illustrations, black and white
  • 0195140575
  • 9780195140576
  • 1,694,488

Review quote

"Among the tens of thousands of articles that I have read during my career as a research scientist, the one that most astonished me was published over 30 years ago by Werner Loewenstein and his colleagues. They showed that biological structures called cell junctions, which I and many other scientists had believed to act as barriers blocking movements of molecules passing the outside of cells, also functioned in perpendicular direction as highways permitting the flow of molecules between the insides of cells. In this new book, Loewenstein, the man who thereby opened the field of cell-to-cell communication, now summarizes the whole field and its implications for cancer, thought, and much else."--Jared M. Diamond, University of California, Los Angeles"The Touchstone of Life may be the most fascinating book I have read.... The language throughout the book is complex like a Tennessee Williams classic yet fast-paced like a Michael Crichton thriller."--Mark D. Drapeau, American Scientist"Dr. Werner Loewenstein is one of the great pioneers in the field of cell communication. He has now produced an extensive and scholarly review linking the wider aspects of information exchange in the biological world. The Touchstone of Life is a book of very general interest." --Sir Michael Stoker, CBE FRS"Poetic and encyclopedic.... In a tour de force, he traces the origin of information, the orderly arrangement of matter and energy, to the first instants after the Big Bang.... Lowenstein writes engagingly, and he provides the background material a nonspecialist needs to follow the intricate story."--George Johnson, The New York Times Book Review"Over 30 years ago, the research of Werner Loewenstein and his colleagues on cell junctions opened the field of intercellular communication. Since then, Loewenstein has contributed much to our understanding of biological information transfer. His new book, The Touchstone of Life, is in many ways highly original...[it] contains myriad facts, unexpected relations, and remarkable insights."--Louis DeFelice, Scienceshow more

About Werner R Lowenstein

Werner R. Loewenstein was Professor of Physiology and Director of the Cell Physics Laboratory at Columbia University and is presently Director of the Laboratory of Cell Communication at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He lives in Woods Hole and Key Biscayne, Florida.show more

Rating details

17 ratings
3.88 out of 5 stars
5 35% (6)
4 35% (6)
3 12% (2)
2 18% (3)
1 0% (0)
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