How We Live and Why We Die: The Secret Lives of Cells

How We Live and Why We Die: The Secret Lives of Cells

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 0393339386

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Acclaimed biologist Lewis Wolpert eloquently narrates the basics of human life through the lens of its smallest component: the cell.

Everything about our existence-movement and memory, imagination and reproduction, birth, and ultimately death-is governed by our cells. They are the basis of all life in the universe, from bacteria to the most complex animals. In the tradition of the classic Lives of a Cell, but with the benefit of the latest research, Lewis Wolpert demonstrates how human life grows from a single cell into a body, an incredibly complex society of billions of cells. Wolpert goes on to examine the science behind topics that are much discussed but rarely understood―stem-cell research, cloning, DNA, cancer―and explains how all life on earth evolved from just one cell. Lively and passionate, this is an accessible guide to understanding the human body and life itself.

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oxygen – joined in a great variety of combinations to make almost all of the molecules in the cell. Joining these atoms together in so many different ways to form proteins and nucleic acids is what gives the cell its complexity. Combining basic units in different ways seems to be a key principle in the life of cells, which can generate enormous variety with relatively few basic units. And the key to cell function lies in the proteins. Inside each cell is a society of molecules that can carry out

Angelman syndrome, which results in mental retardation, abnormal gait, speech impairment, seizures, and an inappropriate happy demeanour that includes frequent laughing. The genes involved are on chromosome 15 which are imprinted in the female and there must be paternal expression for normal development. If there is a deletion of these genes in the paternal chromosome, the child will have Prader-Willi syndrome. If the same region is deleted from the female chromosome 15 it causes Angelman

Here, between the end of the axon and the membrane of the receiving cell there is a narrow gap which the electrical signal cannot cross, so the nerve sends on a different type of signal to communicate with the responding nerve cell at the synapse. The arrival of the impulse at the synapse causes the release of a small amount of chemical neurotransmitters, which then diffuse across the synapse gap and bind to receptors on the membrane of the responding nerve cell. The neurotransmitters like

some evidence that we humans could also delay ageing by reducing our calorie intake. On the Japanese island of Okinawa there are significantly more centenarians than on any other Japanese island. The death rates from stroke, heart disease and cancer are only about two thirds of those for Japan as a whole, and the death rate for sixty-year-olds is half the national average. It is unlikely to be just a coincidence that the average adult food intake is, for cultural reasons, 20 per cent less than

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