• Every Life Is on Fire

  • How Thermodynamics Explains the Origins of Living Things
  • By: Jeremy England
  • Narrated by: Benjamin Isaac
  • Length: 6 hrs and 46 mins
  • 3.9 out of 5 stars (37 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A preeminent physicist unveils a field-defining theory of the origins and purpose of life.

Why are we alive? Most things in the universe aren't. And everything that is alive traces back to things that, puzzlingly, weren't. 

For centuries, the scientific question of life's origins has confounded us. But in Every Life Is on Fire, physicist Jeremy England argues that the answer has been under our noses the whole time, deep within the laws of thermodynamics. England explains how, counterintuitively, the very same forces that tend to tear things apart assembled the first living systems.

But how life began isn't just a scientific question. We ask it because we want to know what it really means to be alive. So England, an ordained rabbi, uses his theory to examine how, if at all, science helps us find purpose in a vast and mysterious universe.

In the tradition of Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, Every Life Is on Fire is a profound testament to how something can come from nothing.

©2020 Jeremy England (P)2020 Basic Books

Critic Reviews

"A unique project that proposes to build a metaphorical bridge between the richness of mythic language and the precision of physical theory. Somewhere below this bridge flow the waters in which biological life first evolved and upon which England is an ecumenical-physicist river guide." (David Krakauer, president and William H. Miller professor of complex systems, Santa Fe Institute)

"In this sparklingly original book, Jeremy England tackles perhaps the biggest scientific question of all - what is life, and how did it emerge from inanimate matter? With crystal clear explanations of deep concepts such as reductionism and emergence, or the fluctuation theorem from non-equilibrium statistical mechanics (who knew that could be done?), the book offers a heady intellectual smorgasbord. It's a delight to read, not only for its charming content, but, because, much like the Hebrew scriptures interwoven throughout the text, the prose flows with a poetic rhythm. I couldn't put it down." (Ard Louis, University of Oxford)

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misleading title and content

I don't believe that the content of this book has much to do about physics it was more or less an outline in Jewish theology

4 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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biblical references add nothing

I was hesitant to listen to this book once I realized the biblical scriptures were going to be a central theme, but I decided to give it a go because I had heard the author interviewed on a podcast and found him really engaging and his field of research of thermodynamics and the emergence of life really interesting. The book however was pretty boring and the biblical references did not add depth or understanding, they felt forced and altogether unnecessary.

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  • Redd
  • 04-14-22

Religion not science

Couldn’t return book so had to cancel my audible membership. Having spent hundreds on books they obviously don’t cherish their customers. I have no interest in the Hebrew bible I thought I was purchasing a science book on thermodynamics

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  • S
  • 09-29-21

Brilliant, thought-provoking book, well read

A brave and insightful approach bringing the conviction of faith to endow deeply thought out physical concepts with tangible meaning. The integrity of the narrative makes the recent rationality and science versus religion and faith facile, lazy and a body of irrelevant attention-grabbing point scoring.