The Song of the Cell is the vivid, thrilling and suspenseful story of the fundamental unit of life. It describes how scientists discovered cells, began to understand them, and are now using that knowledge to create new humans. Both panoramic and intimate, it is Siddhartha Mukherjee’s most spectacular book yet.
In the late 1600s, a distinguished English polymath, Robert Hooke, and an eccentric Dutch cloth-merchant, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, look down their hand-made microscopes. What they see introduces a radical concept that alters both biology and medicine forever. It is the fact that complex living organisms are assemblages of tiny, self-contained, self-regulating units. Our organs, our physiology, our selves, are built from these compartments. Hooke christens them ‘cells’.
The discovery of cells announced the birth of a new kind of medicine. A hip fracture, a cardiac arrest, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, lung cancer – all could be re-conceived as the results of cells, or a cellular ecosystem, functioning abnormally. And all could be treated by therapeutic manipulations of cells.
This revolution in cell biology is still in progress: it represents one of the most significant advances in science and medicine.
Rich with stories of scientists, doctors, and the patients whose lives may be saved by their work, The Song of the Cell is the third book in this extraordinary writer’s exploration of what it means to be human.