Despite the explosion of genetic information in recent years, we have surprisingly little insight into the peculiar history of life on our planet. Most genetic variation natural experiments in evolution are found in simple bacteria, yet they have barely changed over four billion years. No complex animals or plants are composed of bacterial cells. Why not? Why did complex cells only arise once in the history of life? And why are we complex beings so alike, with humans and mushrooms and trees all plotting for sex?
Nick Lane will explore the importance of energy flow in shaping life from its very origins to the flamboyant complexity around us, and ask whether energy flow would direct evolution down a similar path on other planets.