Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology is written by physicist Jim Al-Khalili and molecular biologist Johnjoe McFadden. They document the vastly expanding field of quantum biology. Each chapter takes the reader through a different subject matter. These main subjects highlight how molecular biology, both plant and animal have been found performing life-sustaining functions with quantum physics. Previously given information is continuously expanded on as the book progresses. The chapters are also accompanied by drawings that allow the reader to understand the subject matter at hand fully.
I appreciate the way in which McFadden and Al-Khalili take steps to talk the reader through some experiments that have been conducted when searching for the quantum mechanical explanations of biological phenomena, such as the efficiency of photon capture in photosynthesis, magnetoreception in birds and the action of voltage-gated ion channels across neural networks. For a reader with a good understanding of biology, these extracts of information bring about fresh and exciting ideas.
I found certain aspects of this book to be quite frustrating, however. McFadden and Al-Khalili take steps to explain some fundamental processes that anyone with the background in biology would be fully aware of. What this leads to the book is quite dense. The authors have ambitiously attempted to explain in a matter of pages, biological processes that would take years to grasp fully. This can also be quite condescending as it appears the author is speculating on the scientific knowledge the reader currently possess.
I feel this book is an excellent introduction for readers who aren't entirely familiar with the concept of quantum biology. The authors have done a decent job in the attempt of simplifying a problematic subject. The book is not too heavy on its maths usage which makes it again ideal for a new reader of the matter.
However, McFadden and Al-Khalili deserve recognition for opening up the reader's mind to new possibilities. I was particularly blown away by the author's description of how quantum coherence could explain the efficiency of photosynthesis. This book has expanded the depth of questions my brain possesses, and for that, I genuinely thank the authors.