This book addresses the biggest questions we can ask, or at least many of them.
It covers a lot of ground. The author is a biochemist (and a local), and as you might imagine, the book address physics, astronomy, the history of Earth, etc. and biology, with the emphasis on biology.
It lacks an index which is a real shame. The biology sections of the book introduces many scientific words with non-obvious definitions. I am not a biologist, and an index would have helped me get through them.
The author is aware of this and does his best to explain complex chains of actions in simple terms. He writes in a very folksy style, likes Douglas Adams, and cracks the odd pun or four.
There is little point in summarizing a book that is summarizing literally everything.
Life started about 4 billion years ago(bya). Then came LUCA, the Last Universal Common Ancestor at about 3.5 bya. The first categories of life were Archaea, Eukaryotes (cells with a nucleus), and Bacteria (cells without a nucleus). We are eukaryotes. Over the eons, the Earth has been molten, and then frozen, and then hot again; has had no oxygen to having an atmosphere loaded with it; gone from low CO2 to high CO2 and back, and so on. Sex was invented and evolution took off. There have been several mass extinctions in history, The Permian was the largest, and the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs 65 mya was the last.
I finished this book, but did struggle with biology sections…. Largely because biology is really complex. Worth reading, especially if you have a little biology in your back pocket.
Lee Moller is a life-long skeptic and atheist and the author of The God Con.