The Mechanics of Life: A Closer Look at the Inner Workings of Nature

Timothy Ganesan, Ph.D.
Research Engineer at TNB Research, Selangor, Malaysia

Series: Systems Biology – Theory, Techniques and Applications
BISAC: SCI008000




Digitally watermarked, DRM-free.
Immediate eBook download after purchase.

Product price
Additional options total:
Order total:



This book is devoted to current ideas and developments in the biological sciences which stretch into fields such as engineering, medicine, quantum physics, computer modeling and genetics. In the past couple of years, biology and medicine have significantly evolved. The picture of the solitary biologist taking samples from the field and working in a lab with test tubes and chemical apparatus is a thing of the past. Today, bio-labs are filled with scientists across various disciplines like physics, mathematics and engineering. Most equipment are completely automated and robotic. They are often controlled by powerful computers acquiring and processing vast amounts of data for rigorous analysis. These advances have sped up the rate at which research is done in those fields.

The topics presented in this book are simplified versions of these advances. Focusing on the “how it works” explanation, the notions presented here are made easy and simple to follow. Besides current research, the book elaborates on novel innovations in bio-related research – e.g., ecosystem simulators, robotic surgery, natural experimentation and state-of-the-art instrumentation. Social and economic aspects of modern biology and medicine are also explored throughout this book; touching on issues related to disease spread, medical efforts and best scientific practices. The final part of this book walks through the mechanisms involved in the evolution of life on our planet. Along these lines, the evolution of Homo sapiens is briefly visited. In essence, this book involves taking a closer look at the mechanics of life.



Chapter 1. Parasites: Beyond Evolution

Chapter 2. Antibiotics, Vaccines & Epidemics

Chapter 3. Accounting for Genes

Chapter 4. The Physics of Life

Chapter 5. Stranger Things in Life

Final Remarks

Author Contact Information


Adler, J., (2013). How the Burgess Shale Changed Our View of Evolution: The famed fossils are a link to some of the first complex creatures on Earth, Smithsonian Magazine: history/how-the-burgess-shale-changed-our-view-of-evolution-3678444/
Aiello, L.C. and Wheeler, P., 1995. The expensive-tissue hypothesis: the brain and the digestive system in human and primate evolution. Current anthropology, 36(2), pp.199-221.
Aiello, L.C., 1997. Brains and guts in human evolution: the expensive tissue hypothesis. Brazilian Journal of Genetics, 20.
Arndt, M., Juffmann, T. and Vedral, V., 2009. Quantum physics meets biology. HFSP journal, 3(6), pp.386-400.
Arnold, C., (2015). Ants Swarm Like Brains Think: A neuroscientist studies ant colonies to understand feedback in the brain, Nautilus, no 23:
Barr, S.I., 1999. Vegetarianism and menstrual cycle disturbances: is there an association?. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 70(3), pp.549S-554S.
Bennett, K., (2010). The chaos theory of evolution, New Scientist:
Bohr, Niels Henrik David, Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. (February 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia. com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/bohr-niels-henrik-david.
Born, M.; Heisenberg, W.; Jordan, P. (1926). “Zur Quantenmechanik. II.” . [To quantum mechanics. II.] Zeitschrift für Physik 35 (8–9): 557. Bibcode:1926 ZPhy...35..557B. doi:10.1007/BF01379806.
Brooks, M., (2011). Quantum life: The weirdness inside us: Ideas from the stranger side of physics could explain some long-standing mysteries of biology, New Scientist:
Canela, M.B.F. and Sazima, M., 2003. Aechmea pectinata: a Hummingbird‐dependent Bromeliad with Inconspicuous Flowers from the Rainforest in South‐eastern Brazil. Annals of Botany, 92(5), pp.731-737.
Carmody, R.N. and Wrangham, R.W., 2009. The energetic significance of cooking. Journal of Human Evolution, 57(4), pp.379-391.
Cartlidge, E., 2010. Quantum mechanics boosts photosynthesis, IOP Physics World: feb/04/quantum-mechanics-boosts-photosynthesis.
Collini, E., Wong, C.Y., Wilk, K.E., Curmi, P.M., Brumer, P. and Scholes, G.D., 2010. Coherently wired light-harvesting in photosynthetic marine algae at ambient temperature. Nature, 463(7281), pp.644-647.
Cotton, P.A., 1998. Coevolution in an Amazonian hummingbird-plant community. Ibis, 140(4), pp.639-646.
Courtland, R., (2011). Fly sniffs molecule’s quantum vibration, Daily News, New Scientist:
Dawkins, R. and McKean, D., 2012. The Illustrated Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True. Simon and Schuster.
Deban, S.M., Wake, D.B. and Roth, G., 1997. Salamander with a ballistic tongue. Nature, 389(6646), pp.27-28.
Deban, S.M., O’Reilly, J.C., Dicke, U. and Van Leeuwen, J.L., 2007. Extremely high-power tongue projection in plethodontid salamanders. Journal of Experimental Biology, 210(4), pp.655-667.
Dell’Amore, C., (2013). Giant Platypus Found, Shakes Up Evolutionary Tree: Three-foot mammal lived about 5 to 15 million years ago, National Geographic: 2013/11/131104-giant-platypus-evolution-science-animals-paleontology/
Diamond, J., (1992). The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee, Vintage. ISBN 0099913801.
Engel, G.S., Calhoun, T.R., Read, E.L., Ahn, T.K., Mančal, T., Cheng, Y.C., Blankenship, R.E. and Fleming, G.R., 2007. Evidence for wavelike energy transfer through quantum coherence in photosynthetic systems. Nature, 446(7137), pp.782-786.
Fallon, John F.; Simandl, B. Kay (1978). “Evidence of a role for cell death in the disappearance of the embryonic human tail.” American Journal of Anatomy. 152 (1): 111–29.
Fischer, E. P, (2007), Max Delbrück, Genetics October 1, 2007 vol. 177 no. 2, 673-676.
Foster, P.L., 2004. Rebuttal: adaptive point mutation (Rosenberg and Hastings). Journal of bacteriology, 186(15), pp.4845-4845.
Foley, L.E., Gegear, R.J. and Reppert, S.M., 2011. Human cryptochrome exhibits light-dependent magnetosensitivity. Nature communications, 2, p.356.
Franco, M.I., Turin, L., Mershin, A. and Skoulakis, E.M., 2011. Molecular vibration-sensing component in Drosophila melanogaster olfaction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(9), pp.3797-3802.
Gorman, R.M., 2008. Cooking Up Bigger Brains, Evolution, Scientific American:
Gould, S.J., 1990. Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History, Vintage Books.
Grossman, L., (2011). In the Blink of Bird’s Eye, a Model for Quantum Navigation, Science, Books.
Herculano-Houzel, S., 2009. The human brain in numbers: a linearly scaled-up primate brain. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 3, p.31.
Hoffmann, F.G., Opazo, J.C. and Storz, J.F., 2010. Gene cooption and convergent evolution of oxygen transport hemoglobins in jawed and jawless vertebrates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(32), pp.14274-14279.
Horovitz, I., Martin, T., Bloch, J., Ladevèze, S., Kurz, C. and Sánchez-Villagra, M.R., 2009. Cranial anatomy of the earliest marsupials and the origin of opossums. PLoS One, 4(12), p.e8278.
Hunter, R.J. (1989). Foundations of Colloid Science. Oxford University Press.
Jabr, F., (2015). How Humans Evolved Supersize Brains: Scientists have begun to identify the symphony of biological triggers that powered the extraordinary expansion of the human brain. Quanta Magazine: https://www.quantamagazine. org/20151110-evolution-of-big-brains/
Joaquim, L., Freire, O. and El-Hani, C.N., 2015. Quantum Explorers: Bohr, Jordan, and Delbrück Venturing into Biology. Physics in Perspective, 17(3), pp.236-250.
Karakashian, M.W., 1974, December. Symbiosis in Paramecium Bursaria. In Symposia of the Society for Experimental Biology (No. 29, pp. 145-173).
Klein, R. and Edgar, B., (2002). The Dawn of Human Culture, John Wiley. ISBN 0471252522.
Kryazhimskiy, S., Rice, D.P., Jerison, E.R. and Desai, M.M., 2014. Global epistasis makes adaptation predictable despite sequence-level stochasticity. Science, 344(6191), pp.1519-1522.
Langley, L., (2015). Which Animals Have Barely Evolved?: Some species have managed to maintain their original looks—even over millions of years, National Geographic: 2015/11/151114-animals-mammals-evolution-platypus-opossum/
Langley, L., (2016). How the Venomous, Egg-Laying Platypus Evolved: The odd Australian mammal has an intriguing family tree, National Geographic:
Lister, A.M., 2013. The role of behaviour in adaptive morphological evolution of African proboscideans. Nature, 500(7462), pp.331-334.
Löwdin, P.O., 1963. Proton tunneling in DNA and its biological implications. Reviews of Modern Physics, 35(3), p.724.
Lyklema, J. (1995). Fundamentals of Interface and Colloid Science. vol. 2. p. 3.208.
Marean, C.W., 2014. The origins and significance of coastal resource use in Africa and Western Eurasia. Journal of human evolution, 77, pp.17-40.
Martin, W.F., Garg, S. and Zimorski, V., 2015. Endosymbiotic theories for eukaryote origin. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 370(1678), p.20140330.
Matthews, S.E., (2013). 5 Animals With An Extraordinary Sense Of Smell Moths, sharks, fish, and more, Popular Science: http://www.
McFadden, J., 2017. quantum-biology/coherence-in-photosynthesis/
McGowan, K., (2014). How Life Made the Leap From Single Cells to Multicellular Animals, Wired (originally appeared in Science, Quanta Magazine):
Merali, Z., (2014). Solving Biology’s Mysteries Using Quantum Mechanics, Discover,
Meredith, P., (2014). How birds use Earth’s magnetic field to navigate, Australian Geographic: topics/science-environment/2014/05/animal-magnetism-how-animals-use-earths-magnetic-field.
Moir H.M., Jackson J.C. & Windmill J.F.C. (2013). Extremely high frequency sensitivity in a ‘simple’ ear, Biology Letters, 9 (4) 20130241-20130241. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0241.
Ofria, C. and Wilke, C.O., 2005. Avida: Evolution experiments with self-replicating computer programs. In Artificial Life Models in Software (pp. 3-35). Springer London.
Packer, M.S. and Liu, D.R., 2015. Methods for the directed evolution of proteins. Nature Reviews Genetics, 16(7), pp.379-394.
Parker, J., Tsagkogeorga, G., Cotton, J.A., Liu, Y., Provero, P., Stupka, E. and Rossiter, S.J., 2013. Genome-wide signatures of convergent evolution in echolocating mammals. Nature, 502(7470), pp.228-231.
Pian, R., Archer, M. and Hand, S.J., 2013. A new, giant platypus, Obdurodon tharalkooschild, sp. nov. (Monotremata, Ornithorhynchidae), from the Riversleigh World Heritage Area, Australia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 33(6), pp.1255-1259.
Reed, K.E., 1997. Early hominid evolution and ecological change through the African Plio-Pleistocene. Journal of human evolution, 32(2-3), pp.289-322.
Ritz, T., Adem, S. and Schulten, K., 2000. A model for photoreceptor-based magnetoreception in birds. Biophysical journal, 78(2), pp.707-718.
Roberts, A., (2016). What an elephant’s tooth teaches us about evolution, The Guardian: elephant-teeth-teach-about-evolution
Rosenberg, S.M., Shee, C., Frisch, R.L. and Hastings, P.J., 2012. Stress‐induced mutation via DNA breaks in Escherichia coli: A molecular mechanism with implications for evolution and medicine. Bioessays, 34(10), pp.885-892.
Saarinen, J., Karme, A., Cerling, T., Uno, K., Säilä, L., Kasiki, S., Ngene, S., Obari, T., Mbua, E., Manthi, F.K. and Fortelius, M., 2015. A New Tooth Wear–Based Dietary Analysis Method for Proboscidea (Mammalia). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 35(3), p.e918546.
Sautrey, G., Duval, R.E., Chevalley, A., Fontanay, S. and Clarot, I., 2015. Capillary electrophoresis for fast detection of heterogeneous population in colistin‐resistant Gram‐negative bacteria. Electrophoresis, 36(20), pp.2630-2633.
Schlau-Cohen, G.S., Ishizaki, A., Calhoun, T.R., Ginsberg, N.S., Ballottari, M., Bassi, R. and Fleming, G.R., 2012. Elucidation of the timescales and origins of quantum electronic coherence in LHCII. Nature chemistry, 4(5), pp.389-395.
Schrödinger, E., 1944 What is Life? Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Singer, E., (2014). Under Pressure, Does Evolution Evolve?, Evolution, Quanta Magazine: evolve/
Sniegowski, P.D., Gerrish, P.J. and Lenski, R.E., 1997. Evolution of high mutation rates in experimental populations of E. coli. Nature, 387(6634), p.703.
Well, S., (2003). The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey. Penguin. ISBN 0141008326.
Whittington, C.M., Papenfuss, A.T., Locke, D.P., Mardis, E.R., Wilson, R.K., Abubucker, S., Mitreva, M., Wong, E.S., Hsu, A.L., Kuchel, P.W. and Belov, K., 2010. Novel venom gene discovery in the platypus. Genome biology, 11(9), p.R95.
Wiltschko, W. and Wiltschko, R., 2005. Magnetic orientation and magnetoreception in birds and other animals. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 191(8), pp.675-693.
Zimmer, C., (2010). 7,000 Miles Nonstop, and No Pretzels, Science, The New York Times: 25migrate.html.
Zorich, Z., (2016). ‘If the World Began Again, Would Life as We Know It Exist?: Experiments in evolution are exploring what would happen if we rewound the tape of life, Nautilus: 34/adaptation/if-the-world-began-again-would-life-as-we-know-it-exist-rp.

Audience with a university level education (with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree). Academics interested in a quick (and not too technical read) of the advances in biology and medicine. A quick guide to scientists interested in exploring the overlaps between biology and other areas of science.

If you have any questions or comments with regards to this book, please fill out the form below. Thank you!

You have not viewed any product yet.