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Table of Contents

1: Introduction: Elixir of Life - and Death 2: In the Beginning: The Origins and Importance of Oxygen 3: Silence of the Aeons: Three Billion Years of Microbial Evolution 4: Fuse to the Cambrian Explosion: Snowball Earth, Environmental Change and the First Animals 5: The Bolsover Dragonfly: Oxygen and the Rise of the Giants 6: Treachery in the Air: Oxygen Poisoning and X-Irradiation: A Mechanism in Common 7: Green Planet: Radiation and the Beginnings of Photosynthesis 8: Looking for LUCA: Last Ancestor in the Age Before Oxygen 9: Portrait of a Paradox: Vitamin C and the Many Faces of an Antioxidant 10: The Antioxidant Machine: A Hundred and One Ways of Living with Oxygen 11: Sex and the Art of Bodily Maintenance: Trade-offs in the Evolution of Ageing 12: Eat! Or You'll Live Forever: The Triangle of Food, Sex, and Longevity 13: Gender Bender: The Rate of Living and the Need for Sexes 14: Beyond Genes and Destiny: The Double Agent Theory of Ageing and Disease 15: Life, Death and Oxygen: Lessons From Evolution on the Future of Ageing Further Reading Glossary Index

About the Author

Dr Nick Lane is a British biochemist and writer. He was awarded the first Provost's Venture Research Prize in the Department of Genetics, Evolution, and Environment at University College London, where he is now a Reader in Evolutionary Biochemistry. Dr Lane's research deals with evolutionary biochemistry and bioenergetics, focusing on the origin of life and the evolution of complex cells. Dr Lane was a founding member of the UCL Consortium for Mitochondrial Research, and is leading the UCL Research Frontiers Origins of Life programme. He was awarded the 2011 BMC Research Award for Genetics, Genomics, Bioinformatics and Evolution, and the 2015 Biochemical Society Award for his sustained and diverse contribution to the molecular life sciences and the public understanding of science. His books include Oxygen: The Molecule that Made the World (OUP, 2002), and Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life (OUP, 2005).


'. . . popular science writing at its very best - clear yet challenging, speculative yet rigorous. The book is a tour de force which orchestrates a seamless story out of both venerable ideas and very recent discoveries in several disparate fields.' -- Bernard Dixon`. . . a breathtaking, broad vision of the role of a single gas in our life, from the origin of organisms, through the emergence of creatures, and to their deaths . . . packed full of interesting life-and-death stories...A wonderful read.' -- Peter Atkins`. . . one of the most thought-provoking books I have ever read.' -- John Emsley`Nick Lane's chapters are dispatches from the frontiers of research into Earth and life history, but they contain nothing that will lose the patient reader and much that will reward.' -- The Guardian Review`a brisk revelatory study' -- Christopher Hirst, The Independent`. . . Nick Lane marshals an impressive array of evidence - [an] ambitious narrative . . . This is science writing at its best.' -- Jerome Burne, The Financial Times

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