Creation: The Story of Life on Earth and How We Are About to Start it Again by Adam  Rutherford
(Viking/UK, Portfolio/US, 2013)

Creation: The Story of Life on Earth and How We Are About to Start it Again

by Adam Rutherford

In Creation: The Story of Life on Earth and How We Are About to Start it Again, Adam Rutherford explains that we’re on the cusp of perhaps the most significant event in human history – the creation of synthetic life.

All living organisms on the planet today can trace their lineage back to a single cell floating somewhere in the primordial ocean – the Last Universal Common Ancestor – and that single animating spark has passed in unbroken sequence through each being for the last four billion years. However, in the next few years, this will cease to be true. Scientists will create, in a laboratory, the conditions in which new life, a second spark, will ignite. It will be the beginning of a technological revolution that will dictate the shape of the 21st century. It will change everything.

This is the astonishing story of the journey towards the second genesis.


Suddenly science is close to understanding the Indian rope trick by which life emerged from non-life four billions years ago. Adam Rutherford has written an engaging account of the both the mystery and its impending resolution; he has also provided a fascinating glimpse of the impending birth of a new, synthetic biology. ”
- Matt Ridley, author of Genome.
This is a quite delightful two books in one. Rutherford’s lightness of touch in describing the dizzying complexity of life at the cellular level in Creation: The Origin of Life only serves to emphasise the sheer scale and ambition of the emerging field of synthetic biology in The Future of Life. Just as the last century was regarded as the golden age of physics, so it is becoming increasingly clear that the 21st is the century of biology. This book is the perfect 'story so far'. ”
- Jim Al-Kahlili, author of Quantum and Paradox .
His arguments are clear and compelling but not easily summarized in abbreviated form. I can't resist, though, repeating one of his comments. The British newspaper the Daily Mail, he notes, once teased a story by writing: "Scientist accused of playing God after creating artificial life by making designer microbe from scratch—but could it wipe out humanity?" "The very straightforward answer to that question," says Mr. Rutherford, "is no, as is inevitably the case when newspaper science headlines end with a question mark." To find out why not, read the book—and bear the aphorism in mind when reading newspapers.”
- John Gribbin, The Wall Street Journal
However, Dr Adam Rutherford (as he is at pains to point out, no relation to Ernest) is one of the best explicators of any science that I have read – in a field of good explicators, which is increasingly crowded. So even if you don't have a thing for biology, you will still find this entertaining; you will also find it informative and perhaps, ultimately, scary.”
- the Guardian
A superbly written explanation of how the origin of life on Earth became a question for science, and what the answer might be. ”
- Brian Cox
In this book of two halves, Rutherford tells the epic history of life on earth, and eloquently argues the case for embracing technology which allows us to become biological designers.”
- Alice Roberts
One of the most eloquent and genuinely thoughtful books on science over the past decade ... You will not find a better, more balanced or up-to-date take on either the origin of life or synthetic biology ... Essential reading for anyone interested in the coming revolution, which could indeed rival the Industrial Revolution or the internet. ”
- The Observer
A witty, engaging and eye-opening explanation of the basic units of life, right back to our common ancestors and on to their incredible synthetic future. The mark of a really good science book, it shows that the questions we still have are just as exciting as the answers we already know. ”
- Dara O Briain
A thoroughly engaging and at times inspiring book… Read it if you want to stay clued up. ”
- Nicholas Lezard, Guardian Paperback of the Week
Suspenseful, erudite and thrilling. ”
- Prospect