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  • Published: 4 February 2020
  • ISBN: 9780141986401
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $28.00

The Demon in the Machine

How Hidden Webs of Information Are Finally Solving the Mystery of Life




An astonishing new contribution to our ongoing quest for the secret of life itself

When Darwin set out to explain the origin of species, he made no attempt to answer the deeper question: what is life?

For generations, scientists have struggled to make sense of this fundamental question. Life really does look like magic: even a humble bacterium accomplishes things so dazzling that no human engineer can match it. And yet, huge advances in molecular biology over the past few decades have served only to deepen the mystery. So can life be explained by known physics and chemistry, or do we need something fundamentally new?

In this penetrating and wide-ranging new analysis, world-renowned physicist and science communicator Paul Davies searches for answers in a field so new and fast-moving that it lacks a name, a domain where computing, chemistry, quantum physics and nanotechnology intersect. At the heart of these diverse fields, Davies explains, is the concept of information: a quantity with the power to unify biology with physics, transform technology and medicine, and even to illuminate the age-old question of whether we are alone in the universe.

From life's murky origins to the microscopic engines that run the cells of our bodies, The Demon in the Machine is a breath-taking journey across the landscape of physics, biology, logic and computing. Weaving together cancer and consciousness, two-headed worms and bird navigation, Davies reveals how biological organisms garner and process information to conjure order out of chaos, opening a window on the secret of life itself.

  • Published: 4 February 2020
  • ISBN: 9780141986401
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $28.00

About the author

Paul Davies

Paul Davies is a British-born theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist and best-selling author. He is Regents’ Professor and Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at Arizona State University, where he was for five years also Co-Director of the Cosmology Initiative and Principal Investigator of the Center for the Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology. Prior to his move to the USA in 2006, he helped create the Australian Centre for Astrobiology in Sydney. Davies has written over 30 books, many for the general public. He has three honorary doctorates and Fellowship of University College London. In 1995 he was awarded the Templeton Prize in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace for his work on the deeper meaning of science. He was also awarded the Faraday Prize by The Royal Society, the Kelvin Medal by the UK Institute of Physics, the 2011 Robinson Cosmology Prize, and many book awards, as well as three honorary degrees. In June 2007 he was named a Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s birthday honours list and in December 2011 he was presented with the Bicentenary Medal of Chile. The asteroid 1992 OG was renamed (6870) Pauldavies in recognition of his work on cosmic impacts. Paul Davies is also known worldwide as a television and radio commentator and is the author of hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles.

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