• Gene Machine

  • The Race to Decipher the Secrets of the Ribosome
  • By: Venki Ramakrishnan
  • Narrated by: Matthew Waterson
  • Length: 8 hrs and 11 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (585 ratings)

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $20.99

Buy for $20.99

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

Everyone has heard of DNA. But by itself, DNA is just an inert blueprint for life. It is the ribosome - an enormous molecular machine made up of a million atoms - that makes DNA come to life, turning our genetic code into proteins and therefore into us. 

Gene Machine is an insider account of the race for the structure of the ribosome, a fundamental discovery that both advances our knowledge of all life and could lead to the development of better antibiotics against life-threatening diseases. 

But this is also a human story of Ramakrishnan's unlikely journey, from his first fumbling experiments in a biology lab to being the dark horse in a fierce competition with some of the world's best scientists. In the end, Gene Machine is a frank insider's account of the pursuit of high-stakes science.

©2018 Venki Ramakrishnan (P)2018 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

More from the same

What listeners say about Gene Machine

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    297
  • 4 Stars
    175
  • 3 Stars
    74
  • 2 Stars
    24
  • 1 Stars
    15
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    323
  • 4 Stars
    135
  • 3 Stars
    41
  • 2 Stars
    18
  • 1 Stars
    8
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    265
  • 4 Stars
    144
  • 3 Stars
    74
  • 2 Stars
    25
  • 1 Stars
    18

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

biochemistry+autobiography+science politics

I rarely write the reviews, but I was surprised by this book too much not to write one.
The book follows the path of Venki Ramakrishnan - from his graduate studies and how he came across ribosomes to him winning the Nobel Prize for his work. The book also brilliantly explains the science(basic ribosome functions, crystallography, etc) on the level that any person could easily understand without being too simple, the fact I particularly liked as a bioengineering student myself who hasn't taken that many biology/biochemistry classes. What I absolutely love about the book is how honest and self-reflective the author appears to be. He is humble and tells somewhat embarrassing stories about his professional life, but most importantly he appears to have given credit to every person who has touched his life - he talks about his technicians, says how grateful he is to all of his amazing grad students and fellow scientists some whom he didn't actually know, but who provided him with compounds that he needed for the experiments. He extensively talks about politics in science - how the prizes are awarded, etc. His reflections on the Nobel Prize are mostly critical due to it being so restrictive about how many people are recognized for important scientific discoveries.
In summary, I would recommend this book to anybody interested in learning what it's like to be a scientist in the modern world of competition, collaboration, and how sometimes luck is what it takes to get there. In addition to that, the book is full of funny personal anecdotes and cool ribosome science, which makes it a must-read for anybody who is even remotely interested in science.
Oh, and the narrator is great!

112 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Dense, chatty story

Gene Machine is an entertaining view of the scientific forays of a Nobel Prize recipient. He gives detailed explanation of crystals and their role in building understanding of the ribosome. Though technical, the story of the teams, personalities and struggles encountered adds humor and interest to the book.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The breathtaking complexity a molecular machine

This is not just an autobiography of Nobel Laureate Venki Ramakrishan, a structural biologist who has been recognised for his work on the Ribosome, the complex molecular living machine that produces proteins.

It is a unique inner glimpse at the specialised fields of biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics, the people behind it, the fast paced advancements, competition, collaboration, politics, and the high stakes game of decades work coming to fruition.

If you were amazed by the mRNA Translation videos on ytube, showing the smallest most complicated living machine made of a million atoms, you will be even more amazed at the decades amount of work it took to achieve this knowledge.

This is also a story of modern science and what it takes to be at the top, and some of its shortfalls when it comes to recognition. So many people contribute for only a few to be recognised.

An incredible book. Highly recommended for its fascinating story, and the depth of science involved. Top Marks!!!

69 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting history

This book was more about the history of winning the Nobel prize then the science. I was disappointed because I wanted to learn about ribosomes and bio mechanics. Instead I got an interesting history of the politics in front lines science.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting on Three Levels

(1) The life of a research scientist, (2) the politics among research scientists (3) the life of a person. The book is not a science book, the author states in the beginning that the book is a memoir (of an entire career in science, it turns out).

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An analysis of modern science

If you’ve ever wondered about what drives scientific discovery, this is for you - a passionate description of an amazing biological machine.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • SC
  • 04-14-19

Excellent book

It is an amazing book in ribosomes structural biology and Crystallography. I wish many more books will be available on audible in coming months/years.

Thanks

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

very good

very good story and comprehensive. about science, being a scientist, academia, and even the high accolades of the community.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Not a scientifically informative book

While I knew from the reviews/description that this book was written from the perspective of a memoir, it also claimed to provide interesting information on the ribosome. After listening to the first 5 chapters of the background of researching molecular structures, and the author's life experiences, I started skipping through chapters trying to find some information about ribosomes. Sadly, I could find any (again, I did not listen to entire book - I just couldn't waste more time trying to find interesting information). I was not interested in the researcher's life.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Another scientist fails at writing for the masses

The headline says it all. I'm not a gene scientist, but I've read and understood several very interesting books about genes and genetics. This book looked very interesting when I saw it. Unfortunately, it is just another example of a scientist who fails at writing about interesting subjects in a way that anyone but his closest colleagues can understand. Very disappointed.

1 person found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ian Davidson
  • Ian Davidson
  • 06-30-21

Cracking the Ribosomes

How breakthroughs are made in science. The story of the collaboration and competition that cracked the structure and molecular function of the Ribosome.

As you’d expect there were quite a few bumps in the road along the way and a fair share of determination and hard work with a sprinkling of luck to measure. This sort has all of these.

Few scientist get the recognition for their work that they deserve. That is both regrettable and necessary.

Ask the right questions, use the right technology and work with the right people and maybe you might be lucky.

Science embodies the human spirit. Science is the winner regardless of the trials and tribulations of individual scientists.

Great story.



  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Trillian
  • Trillian
  • 03-31-21

Scientific storytelling at its very best

Fascinating, engaging story of how a former physicist helped to solve one of the fundamental mysteries in molecular biology. Also, an interesting insight into the academic politics and professional rivalries that often mar scientific research.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-25-20

Too much biography not enough ribosome

I really struggled with this book despite being a highly motivated reader (work at a biotech and keen to learn about genes and ribosomes). I only made it about halfway through and up to that point it was entirely biography, giving elaborate details of the author's friends dating habits but very little information about biological discoveries. What was included on crystallography was incredibly dry and elucidated nothing around the processes of going from genes to biology.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Brendan
  • Brendan
  • 01-12-20

excellent story, well written, well told. i

it can get a little technical and those sections require background reading and relistening at times too. stick with it though. this technical detail helps but is not necessary to enjoy the book.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Venkateshwaralu Srikarunyan
  • Venkateshwaralu Srikarunyan
  • 12-06-18

Struggles of an India Born Scientist

This is a great account of what a typical work of a scientist looks like, in general. Particularly, I understood the struggle by student with an Indian background has to go through in an international arena while dealing with a bleeding edge topic in science.