Book Review: Life on the Edge: The Coming Age of Quantum Biology by Johnjoe McFadden and Jim Al-Khalili

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McFadden and Al-Khalili present the lay reader with a fascinating and engaging explanation of how quantum physics might help explain life. From the nano-machine-like workings of enzymes, to the astonishing efficiency of photosynthesis, and many other examples, the authors describe how quantum physics can help us understand when classical physics cannot.

The book begins by explaining a bit about what quantum physics is. Central to the book is a challenge of the belief that quantum physics only work at the scale of the tiniest particles and only at extremely low temperatures – in other words, not anywhere near the temperatures friendly to life. Yet at the atomic scale, many processes within living organisms, such as photosynthesis, seem to rely on a quantum nature.

If you enjoy books like Stephen Hawking’s classic A Brief History of Time, you will probably enjoy Life on the Edge. It has plenty of nerdy science “wow” factor, and aims for accessibility without crossing into condescension.

  • Overall rating: ★★★★½
  • Subject: ★★★★★
  • Pace: ★★★½
  • Style/tone: ★★★★★

Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books ( at no cost in exchange for an honest review.