Peter Dizikes: Writings on Science and Society


Science Chronicle
Four Books on Evolutionary Science
By Peter Dizikes. The New York Times, August 30, 2009

LIFE ASCENDING
The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution.
By Nick Lane.
Norton, $26.95.

For about 150 years, we have known how species evolve. The emergence of life itself remains more obscure. But as Lane shows with clarity and vigor in “Life Ascending,” fascinating studies on the subject abound. A trained biochemist, Lane smoothly pulls in evidence from genetics, proteomics (the study of proteins), paleontology and geophysics to show how the critical components and mechanisms of complex life — from DNA and photosynthesis to sex and vision — could have developed. Because “a chemical reaction happens spontaneously if all the molecular partners desire to participate,” he dismisses the “thermodynamically flat” primordial soup as a starting point for life and instead looks for ways hydrogen and oxygen can get together. Someday we may need a sequential illustration showing man standing upright after emerging from porous rocks in hydro¬≠thermal vents — where suggestive research locates the first signs of complex molecules and DNA. This is not a comprehensive textbook, and the concluding chapters on consciousness and death lack the biochemical signature of the best sections. Still, Lane shows how thoroughly, if provisionally, we can reconstruct evolutionary developments. Reading the remote past, he argues, “is a science in its own right, one that can only enrich our understanding of life.”

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My work has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Slate, Salon, Technology Review, and numerous other publications. You can learn more about me here.

SELECTED ARTICLES BY PETER DIZIKES

E. Coli and You
The New York Times, June 29, 2008

The Meaning of the Butterfly
The Boston Globe, June 8, 2008

Joseph Needham's Grand Question
Seed, May/June 2008

Pure Science
The New York Times, April 13, 2008

Nature Nurtures Learning
The Boston Globe, December 31, 2007

Genes Open New Frontier in Privacy Debate
The Boston Globe, September 24, 2007

Cambridge Scientists Put on a Show
Nature Network Boston, May 1, 2007

Edward O. Wilson Sees Accord on Climate Action
The Boston Globe, January 29, 2007

Genome Human
The New York Times, July 30, 2006

Galileo Groupies
Slate, February 3, 2006

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Peter Dizikes: Writings on Science and Society


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Measure for Measure
Technology Review, July/August 2010

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