In “The Vital Question”, Nick Lane builds several plausible arguments towards why life on Earth is the way it is. He uses energy instead of DNA to explain complex traits of life. I must agree that he is very convincing as a scientist, most of his arguments are testable within realms of scientific method.
It starts with an important question about the black hole in biology: Why did eukaryotes scale with so much of diversity where as the bacteria are struck in their small scale? What is the bottleneck that we crossed that they couldn’t cross even after four billion years of evolution?
Nick proposes a theory about a singular event where one bacteria is consumed into an archaeon and that could have released the shackles of scale. With the energy generation taken care of by another bacteria, it became easy for life to evolve into the complexity that we see. He uses energy generation to explain a long list of unsolved questions in biology like: Why we have only two sexes? And, what is the need for sex anyway? Why do we die? What traits control death of a cell? Why do we age at all?
You can think of this book as explaining the architecture of an operating system of life. Very sophisticated software honed through billions of years of evolution. Like I mentioned before, all these arguments are plausible, he uses the simplest explanation to the data that we see. I would highly recommend this book. Please read, it’s illuminating!!