How Life Works

Philip Ball

09 November 2023
1061 pages


Enticingly read by the author, Philip Ball.

A cutting-edge new vision of biology that proposes to revise our concept of what life is – from Science Book Prize winner and former Nature editor Philip Ball.

Biology is undergoing a quiet but profound transformation. Several aspects of the standard picture of how life works have been exposed as incomplete, misleading, or wrong.

In How Life Works, Philip Ball explores the new biology, revealing life to be a far richer, more ingenious affair than we had guessed. With this knowledge come new possibilities. Today we can redesign and reconfigure living systems, tissues, and organisms. We can reprogram cells, for instance, to carry out new tasks and grow into structures not seen in the natural world. Some researchers believe that ultimately we will be able to regenerate limbs and organs, and perhaps even create new life forms that evolution has never imagined.

Incorporating the latest research and insights, How Life Works is a sweeping journey into this new frontier of the nature of life, a realm that will reshape our understanding of life as we know it.

Ball’s marvelous book is both wide-ranging and deep . . . How Life Works has exciting implications for the future of the science of biology itself. I could not put it down.
Ball takes glee in tearing down scientific shibboleths . . . and his penetrating analysis underscores the stakes of outdated assumptions. . . . Provocative and profound, this has the power to change how readers understand life’s most basic mechanisms.
Ball has the rare ability to explain scientific concepts across very diverse disciplines. . . . He explains the turn away from a purely mechanical view of life to one that embraces the inherently dynamic, complex, multilayered, interactive, and cognitive nature of the processes by which life sustains and regenerates itself.