What does it mean to be alive? Though it might sound like a philosophical question, and can sometimes be a political one, scientists have been trying to answer it for centuries. Despite what biologists have learned about living things, the truth is that there is no universally accepted definition of life. In LIFE’S EDGE: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive, Carl Zimmer, New York Times columnist and award-winning science writer, sets out to discover an answer.
After writing about life for many years, Zimmer became deeply puzzled there was no clear definition of it. We say human life begins at birth and ends at death. But if we consider animals, plants and, say, viruses the boundaries of life become utterly mysterious. In LIFE’S EDGE, Zimmer adventures into the borderlands, combining vivid in-person reporting with little-known historical stories. He takes readers to an abandoned mine near Lake George, New York, to visit with a number of Northern long-eared bats. At the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Zimmer talks to scientists about how multiheaded slime molds help us understand how life forms make decisions. He visits a lab studying neurological disorders where researchers are growing brain organoids–miniature organs made of human cells–in petri dishes.
Carl Zimmer is one of today’s most sought after and celebrated science writers and was recently praised by New York Magazine as “the country’s most respected science journalist”. He continues to break news with his essential reporting on the coronavirus for The New York Times, and readership of his NYT Matter column draws more new readers every year. Zimmer’s previous book, She Has Her Mother’s Laugh, was named best science book of the year by The Guardian, was a PEN science writing award finalist, and named a best book of the year by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Science Friday.
Registration is required for this event.