This is a blog about the Swedish book ”Vad är liv, i kosmos, i cell, människan”? (What is life, in cosmos, in the cell, in man?) by eight authors from different disciplines, Ingemar Ernberg, medicine, Clas Blomberg, physics, Steven Jörsäter, astronomy, Anders Wennborg, medicine, Peter Århem, neurology, Per-Erik Malmnäs, philosophy, Erik Aurell, physics and Joakim Cöster, computer science.
The book emanates from an interest group assemled by Ingemar Ernberg that started a seminar series at the Karolinska Institute (KI) in 2005. Thanks to a grant from KI (”kulturrådet”) we have been able to invite leading scientists in this field from many disciplines to give lectures. This book, aimed at the general audience, is a fruit of this lecture series. Although each author obviously has his speciality we have chosen to write the book together rather than a chapter each. An interesting challenge has been to understand each other and the different views of the world typically encountered from within the horizons of different subjects.
The books explores the scientific concept of life from many perspectives. We live in a very exciting age were discoveries of high importance for the science of life are made on a daily basis. In astronomy we have finally arrived at a stage were we can discover earth-like planets around other stars. A radically changed view of the life here on earth makes the existence of life on other bodies in the solar system far more likely than precviously imagined and an intense activity is going on to try to find it. The extremely sensitive DNA mapping methods have revolutionised the discovery and classification of life. Systems biology is closing in on modelling actual living systems. Artificial life, at least almost, has recently been created. The modern science of life is a sort of superscience where not only the results from a long row of traditional disciplines such as biology, medicine, physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology etc. are being used but there are also, in many cases, the very newest and most exciting results in each discipline that moves the entire field forward. An age of discovery as well as possibly a new way to do science.
Our book has been published by Karolinska University Press (www.kiup.se) and we and the publisher are currently seeking a publisher interested in publishing an international version in English but also e.g. french and german versions are obviously of great interest.