'The ideas are subtle, possibly significant, and slightly unsettling. What more could a reader wish for?' – New York Journal of Books
Cells to Civilizations
The Principles of Change that Shape Life
An ambitious account of how life transforms itself – from the production of bacteria to the emergence of complex civilizations.
What are the connections between evolving microbes, an egg that develops into an infant and a child who learns to walk and talk? In Cells to Civilizations, the award-winning scientist Enrico Coen synthesizes the growth of living systems and creative processes and reveals that the four great life transformations – evolution, development, learning and human culture – while typically understood separately, actually all revolve around shared core principles and manifest the same fundamental recipe. Coen blends provocative discussion, the latest scientific research and colourful examples to demonstrate the links between these critical stages in the history of life.
Coen tells a story rich with genes, embryos, neurons and fascinating discoveries. He examines the development of the zebra, the adaptations of seaweed, the cave paintings of Lascaux and the formulations of Alan Turing. He explores how dogs make predictions, how weeds tell the time of day and how our brains distinguish a Modigliani from a Rembrandt. Locating commonalities in important findings, Coen gives readers a deeper understanding of key transformations and provides a bold portrait for how science both frames and is framed by human culture.
A compelling investigation into the relationships between our biological past and cultural progress, Cells to Civilizations presents a remarkable story of living change.