How did we come to be here, conscious animals on a planet bursting with life? There's a long story and a short one. The long story is our planet's history, a 4.5 billion year epic of unimaginable complexity that defies being told in a single book. Then there's the short story, the story of the few seminal "inventions" of evolution from which everything else flowed. I outline this story in my new book, linkurl:__Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution__.; course anyone can choose their own list of life's great inventions, and my list is personal, however well I may justify it. Nonetheless, each of these inventions transfigured the world, ultimately making our own existence possible. Here's the short story.1. The Origin of Life
A 30-metre tall active alkaline vent.

Reproduced with permission from
Deborah S. Kelley and the Oceanography
The origin of life is one of...
2. DNA3. Photosynthesis4. The Complex Cell
Living stromatolites, constructed by

Image: Courtesy of Catherine Colas des
Francs-Small University,
Western Australia.
5. Sex6. Movement7. Sight
A fruit fly's eye
Image: Courtesy of Walter
Gehring, Biozentrum, University of Basel,
8. Hot Blood9. Consciousness10. Deathlinkurl:Nick Lane; is a biochemist and honorary reader at University College London. His previous books include __Oxygen__ and __Power, Sex, Suicide__, and he's been described by Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek as "a writer who's not afraid to think big -- and think hard." Lane's current research is on the constraints imposed by chemiosmosis in the origin and evolution of the eukaryotic cell.

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