What Is Life?
Publication series Das Neue Alphabet (The New Alphabet), Volume 11
Editors: Stefan Helmreich, Natasha Myers, Sophia Roosth and Michael Rossi (Biogroop) in association with Katrin Klingan und Nick Houde
Publisher: Spector Books, Leipzig, 2021
165 pages, German and English edition
color illustrations, paperback with folded dust cover
ISBN DE: 978 – 3 – 95905 – 497 – 3
ISBN EN: 978 – 3 – 95905 – 498 – 0
Price: 10 €
Available at bookstores, mail order buying / postal shopping via the Webshop
“What is life?” is a question that has haunted the life sciences since Gottfried Treviranus and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck independently coined the word “biology” in 1802. The query has titled scores of articles and books, with Erwin Schrödinger’s in 1944 and Lynn Margulis & Dorion Sagan’s in 1995 being only the most prominent ones. In this book, the editors curate and speculate upon a collection of first pages of publications from 1829–2020 containing “What Is Life?” in their titles. Replies to the question – and, by extension, the object of biology – have transformed since its first enunciation, from “the sum of the functions that resist death” to “a bioinformation system” to “edible, lovable, lethal.” Interleaved are frame-shifting interruptions reflecting on how the question has been posed, answered, and may yet be unasked. With contributions by Evelyn Fox Keller, Stefan Helmreich, Natasha Myers, Sophia Roosth and Michael Rossi.
Table of contents:
Katrin Klingan and Nick Houde
What Is Life? 1867–1905
The Monkey and the Tardigrade
What Is Life? 1907–1928
Life and the Compass
What Is Life? 1929–1958
And Say the Fossil Responded?
What Is Life? 1959–1993
Once Again, “What Is Life?”
Evelyn Fox Keller
What Is Life? 1994–2006
What Is Life Becoming?
What Is Life? 2008–2021
How Is Life?
Works Excerpted: A Chronological Select Bibliography for “What Is Life?”