Nick Lane

About Nick Lane Nick Lane CV Nick Lane publications Nick Lane seminars Nick Lane talks Scientific Art Contact

The Vital Question: Why is Life the Way it Is?

"One of the deepest, most illuminating books about the history of life to have been published in recent years." Economist

"He is an original researcher and thinker and a passionate and stylish populariser. His theories are ingenious, breathtaking in scope, and challenging in every sense ... intellectually what Lane is proposing, if correct, will be as important as the Copernican revolution." Peter Forbes Guardian

"A bold, eloquent, confident book… Nick Lane is not only a master storyteller, but this is his research… he’s that rare species, a scientist who can illuminate the bewildering complexities of biology with clear, luminous words" Adam Rutherford, Observer

"Comes triumphantly close to cracking the secret of why life is the way it is, to a depth that would boggle any ancient philosopher's mind." Matt Ridley Times

"Nick Lane is emerging as one of the most imaginative thinkers about the evolution of life on Earth... A scintillating synthesis of a new theory of life." Clive Cookson Financial Times

"Succeeds brilliantly… I cannot recommend The Vital Question too highly. Lane's vivid descriptions and powerful reasoning will amaze and grip the reader." Caspar Henderson Telegraph

"This is a book of vast scope and ambition, brimming with bold and important ideas... The arguments are powerful and persuasive... an incredible, epic story." Michael Le Page New Scientist

"A tour de force of inventive science." Philip Ball Prospect

About the Book More Reviews Related Articles Chapter Extracts Buy a Book

Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution (Norton/Profile 2009)

Winner of the Royal Society Prize for Science Books 2010 Read more

"Original and awe-inspiring... an exhilarating tour of some of the most profound and important ideas in biology." Michael Le Page, NEW SCIENTIST

"Nick Lane is one of the most exciting science writers of our time." THE INDEPENDENT

"With its vast scope, page-turning revelations and elegant prose, Nick Lane's Life Ascending is everything one could hope for in a science book." THE TELEGRAPH

"This is a science book that doesn't cheat: the structure is logical, the writing is witty, and the hard questions are tackled head on." Tim Radford, THE GUARDIAN

"Excellent and imaginative... full of surprises." Lewis Wolpert, NATURE

"With clarity and vigor... Lane smoothly pulls in evidence to show how the critical components and mechanisms of complex life could have developed." NEW YORK TIMES

Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life (OUP 2005)

Shortlisted for the Royal Society Science Book Prize and the THES Young Academic Author of the Year. An Economist Book of the Year.

"Magnificent... explains life's workings, fabric and inner logic with a previously unapproachable coherence." Oliver Morton, PROSPECT Read more

"Audacious... For anyone interested in some of the most profound questions of twenty-first century science. Clearly and forcefully propounded.... This is a new take on why we are here. Do, please, read this book." John F. Allen, NATURE Read more

"Impressive… readable, provocative and often persuasive… undoubtedly important. An exciting and unusual book." Jonathan Hodgkin, TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT Read more

"Full of startling insights into the nature and evolution of life as we know it." THE ECONOMIST, Books of the Year 2005

Oxygen: The Molecule that Made the World (OUP 2002)

"Highly ambitious.... Oxygen is a piece of radical scientific polemic, nothing less than a total rethink of how life evolved between about 3.5 billion and 543 million years ago, and how that relates to the diseases we suffer from today.... This is science writing at its best." Jerome Burne, FINANCIAL TIMES

"Lane's book is an extraordinary orchestration of disparate scientific disciplines, connecting the origins of life on earth with disease, age and death in human beings." John Cornwell, SUNDAY TIMES, Books of the Year, 2002

"Lane has written a wonderful book about the dual role of oxygen in life and death.... This is a scientific saga as compelling as any creation myth and Lane tells it with appropriate zeal." Tim Lenton, TIMES HIGHER EDUCATIONAL SUPPLEMENT

"Enthralling.... An excellent book. It held me spellbound for a 7 hour plane flight. I recommend it unreservedly." Barry Halliwell, FREE RADICAL RESEARCH

About Nick Lane

Nick Lane is a biochemist and writer. He holds the position of Reader in Evolutionary Biochemistry in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London. Nick leads the UCL Research Frontiers Origins of Life programme, and is a founding member of the UCL Consortium for Mitochondrial Research. His research is on the role of bioenergetics in the origin of life and the evolution of complex life. He won the Biochemical Society Award for 2015. Read More