41RdixipILL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_This was a really exciting book that I enjoyed immensely. It was well written by two exceptionally intelligent individuals. It is accessible, but not condescending. It is intelligent, but not stuff. It is a science book written for lay-folk like myself who find the mysteries of the universe to be both a source of wonder and a picture of sanity. It all makes sense; it makes no sense.

That's pretty much my takeaway from this book: In truth, we pretty much no nothing about the world in which we live even if we happen to know enough to fill millions of pages with ink and letters and words and sentences. There is a lot we know and perhaps even more that we do not know. At the end of the day, science is an endless journey of discovery which takes us from the gargantuan complexities of galaxies to the uber-minutia of quantum mechanics and biology. Who knows how these things even hold together are what keeps them from imploding or exploding? The book is filled with rampant speculation about such things as the authors note, "…we cannot yet be sure that all of the features we have just described are quantum mechanical." (325).

But isn't it fun to explore, predict, test, and retest?

It kind of makes me wonder every now and then what would become of science and scientists if we ran out of things to investigate? What if there is a world even smaller than the quantum world? What if there is a world larger than the universe? Truth is, we won't know unless we continue to explore–an arduous task that boggles the mind. As I read through this book I often wondered 'how on earth can they do that?' I mean, seriously, the levels of smallness that are being dealt with in this book are quite extraordinary.

I remain unconvinced by their arguments put forth in chapter 7 where the authors dealt with 'quantum genes.' They throw large numbers at the readers like, "The rate of copying errors in DNA replication, what we call mutation, is usually less than one in a billion." (202) But they want us to believe that over the course of 'generations' enough of these mutations collect in an organism to produce something useful in the organism. What I can never figure out is how the organisms survive long enough without the useful something to arrive at the place where the useful something is, well, useful. What I mean is something like this. If all of the sudden the climate on earth changed so dramatically that I needed to grow a horn on my head to survive, but replication errors only occur 1/1,000,000,000, and I need billions of years to complete this replication error in order to survive, then how did I survive long enough without the horn on my head in order for the horn to grow on my head in order for me to survive?

Or, if a robin didn't originally have a 'sense that detects the earth's magnetic field' that helped it 'navigate'–that is, if it needed millions of years to evolve this skill (173), what did it do for all those millions of years when it didn't have this sense? How did it determine it needed this sense? And how did it navigate before it evolved this sense? I confess that these questions perplex me.

Now, if you tell me that organisms change because of their environment then we can have a conversation. But it makes no sense to me for anyone to suggest that there are so few replication errors and yet there are enough that produce what we see. I admire the authors of the book very much for their steadfast hold to something that makes no logical sense whatsoever. I enjoyed the book very much right up to the point where they started flopping around like fish out of water to explain Darwinism in light of quantum mechanics. Maybe sometimes the phenomena we see do not require us to work backwards to a point of origin or necessity. Maybe what we see requires us only to stand slack-jawed in amazement at what is or can be.

At times the authors fall into the error of tautology. For example, in the same chapter 7 on Quantum Genes, the authors are discussing Hugo de Vries and his observations concerning the evening primrose and how one version of this plant was 'taller' and had 'oval-shaped petals rather than the familiar heart-shaped petals.' To this earth shattering observation, the authors write, "He recognized this flower as a 'mutant'; and, more important, he showed that the mutant traits were passed on to the plant's progeny, so they were inherited." (212). Well, of course the 'mutant' plant passed on 'mutated genes'; what else could it pass on to its progeny? And let's be honest, this really doesn't demonstrate anything other than that it was a mutated plant and that it passed on mutated genes. There's no explanation of why it was mutated, what factors led to the mutation, what purpose the mutation might have served, and so on. Maybe a bee just got it wrong when it was pollinating the plant.

This is an exciting book except where it dips into the absurd world of Darwinian evolution–which was inevitable. I find the book to be somewhat whimsical and joyful. They weren't cracking back on people who happen to have philosophical, theological, or logical disagreements with their conclusions. They admit that much of what they are suggesting is speculation and that a lot more research is necessary to prove their ideas. The authors seemed to genuinely amazed by what they were writing about and that made the book a lot of fun to read–that is, I often marked in the margins that something they wrote or discovered was simply 'magnificent.' Like when they talk about robins or clown fish or just life: "Life is remarkable" (25). Yes. It is.

The book is filled with wonderful illustrations and a few pictures. The style of writing is engaging. I really enjoyed this book a lot and I am hopeful that more books concerning quantum biology will be written in the future–books for people like me who enjoy reading and learning about the discoveries scientists and everyday people make about this great planet where we live.

Finally, the book was well researched. Part of what I enjoyed most was how each chapter slowly uncovered a discovery by tracing its history from this scientist to that scientist and all the way to our current day. This was excellent and a lot of the names mentioned are familiar even if a few of them are somewhat obscure. Notes are appended at the end and there is a helpful, lengthy index for readers who wish to do follow-up on the author's sources.

This is an excellent book. I recommend it for those interested in quantum mechanics/biology and for those who simply enjoy delighting in the wonders of this earth. In some ways, this book will cause the reader never to look at life the same way again. Maybe this is a good thing.

May your wonder never cease.

5/5 Stars

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