Yes, Life in the Fast Lane Kills You

New insights into mitochondria reveal how life expends energy

By Philip Ball, Illustration by Alexander Glandien, Naitulus

Nick Lane is an evolutionary biochemist at University College London who thinks about the big questions of life: how it began, how it is maintained, why we age and die, and why we have sex. Shunning the habit of our times to regard these as questions for evolutionary genetics, Lane insists that our fundamental biochemical mechanisms—particularly those through which living cells generate energy—may determine or limit these facts of life.

Lane has been steadily constructing an alternative, complementary view of evolution to the one in which genes compete for reproductive success and survival. He has argued that some of the big shifts during evolutionary history, such as the appearance of complex cells called eukaryotes (like our own) and the emergence of multicellular life forms, are best understood by considering the energetic constraints.

Lane’s book Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution was awarded the 2010 Royal Society Science Books Prize, the top prize in the United Kingdom for books on science. His 2015 book The Vital Question: Why Is Life the Way It Is? has been described as “game-changing” and “brimming with bold and important ideas.” It offers a new, detailed model for how life might have begun by harnessing the incipient chemical energy at deep-sea vents. Bill Gates called The Vital Question “an amazing inquiry into the origins of life.”

Nautilus caught up with Lane in his laboratory in London and asked him about his ideas on aging, sex, and death.

Read the original article HERE

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