• Oxygen

  • The Molecule That Made the World
  • By: Nick Lane
  • Narrated by: Nigel Patterson
  • Length: 16 hrs and 35 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (138 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

Three hundred million years ago, in Carboniferous times, dragonflies grew as big as seagulls, with wingspans of nearly a meter. Researchers claim they could have flown only if the air had contained more oxygen than today - probably as much as 35 percent. Giant spiders, tree ferns, marine rock formations, and fossil charcoals all tell the same story. High oxygen levels may also explain the global firestorm that contributed to the demise of the dinosaurs after the asteroid impact.

The strange and profound effects that oxygen has had on the evolution of life pose a riddle that this audiobook sets out to answer. Oxygen is a toxic gas. Divers breathing pure oxygen at depth suffer from convulsions and lung injury. Fruit flies raised at twice the normal atmospheric levels of oxygen live half as long as their siblings. Reactive forms of oxygen, known as free radicals, are thought to cause aging in people. Yet if atmospheric oxygen reached 35 percent in the Carboniferous, why did it promote exuberant growth instead of rapid aging and death?

Oxygen takes the listener on an enthralling journey, as gripping as a thriller, as it unravels the unexpected ways in which oxygen spurred the evolution of life and death.

©2002 Nick Lane (P)2020 Tantor

What listeners say about Oxygen

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    102
  • 4 Stars
    24
  • 3 Stars
    7
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    3
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    89
  • 4 Stars
    20
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    2
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    88
  • 4 Stars
    12
  • 3 Stars
    7
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    0

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

A Story About Pretty Much Everything

Super interesting book that covers the formation of the earth, the beginning of life on our planet, evolution, genetics, health, lifestyle, diet, etc. Lot's of new information to me like:

1. LUCA, the last universal common ancestor or last universal cellular ancestor (LUCA), is the most recent population of organisms from which all organisms now living on Earth have a common descent, the most recent common ancestor of all current life on Earth.

2. The Great Oxidation Even or Catastrophe might not have been a catastrophe at all. Meaning, a surplus of oxygen in the atmosphere after the invention of photosynthesis might not have caused a mass extinction as has been widely speculated.

3. Photosynthesis evolved only once.

4. Were it not for the invention of photosynthesis, which created a surplus of oxygen in the atmosphere, which in turn helped to create an ozone layer, Earth would have lost it's liquid oceans to evaporation as happened to the liquid oceans on Mars and Venus. This also points to the fact that if life ever existed on Mars and Venus, it certainly never evolved the ability to photosynthesis.

5. Mitochondria, by taking up residence, or more likely, seeking refuge inside a the cell membrane, might have found a way to perpetuate the conditions of a low-oxygen environment from which it originally evolved as a bacteria billions of years ago! Whoa!

Finally, I listed to the audio book which was read by Nigel Patterson. Patterson might be my favorite narrator. I could listen to him read just about anything.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it

Such an outstanding review of a complex subject without dumbing it down. I think I shall listen to it multiple times.

3 people found this helpful

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

Exceeded my expectations; highly recommended

Very interesting how the author ties in so many seemingly unrelated topics but makes them an interesting part of the story. He was great at explaining the relationships at a level that made it interesting and understandable but w/o requiring a Masters degree in the subject matter or making it boring. I appreciated how he compared and evaluated various explanations and how he and others arrived at their conclusions.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in Earth's past, the relationship between various environmental conditions and the factors that affect them. or the cause and effect relationship between our environment and ourselves.

2 people found this helpful

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

The science of where oxygen came from & adaption.


very comprehensive, full of science that had passed me bye since graduating College. A lot to still learn, it will be a better read during the next read.

2 people found this helpful

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

The Very Best of The Best

This was the third and my favorite of books written by Nick Lane, my new favorite biochemist/author . This book with the “simple” title of Oxygen weaves together General chemistry, biochemistry, geochemistry, organic chemistry, plate tectonics , nutrition, life origin research...... the list is endless . Yet these seemingly minimally related topics are deftly woven together to cover most things I imagined might be covered in a book named after the element, and many more I never considered . A thoroughly enjoyable was to spend an entire day.
I’m sure to go back through it time and again!

2 people found this helpful

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

Very insightful

Great information, and a cool premise about how life evolved and oxygen's role in that evolutionary story. I enjoyed the narrator. Some chapters were dull and difficult to get through, but aside from that it was good

1 person found this helpful

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

mind-boggling

There is so very much to learn from this fascinating book! Everything made sense as I was listening, but I had trouble absorbing it all. I will definitely want to listen to it again in its entirety. It integrates chemistry, the history of the solar system, the evolution of life, the problem of free-radicals... and so much more. Depending on how your brain works, it might be better read than listened to.

1 person found this helpful

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

Great read!

Nick Lane is one of my favourite authors. His story telling and writing style makes complex scientific concepts come to life, and easy to understand.

1 person found this helpful

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

A real tour de force!

I am a recently retired medical research scientist. I learned more from this audiobook than all my many tears of reading and publishing. It will be challenging for non-scientists, but is sprinkled with helpful metaphors. It is repetitive, as it must be to let the reader see the forest, beyond the many hundreds of trees which are examined.

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

This is not science!

If there was such a thing as oxygen toxicity then oxygen would be the only toxins that if you eliminated totally from your body you would die. Breathing 100% oxygen at 2.2 atmosphere is not poisonous, what happens is that the oxygen depletes nitrogen from your body. The nitrogen is critical in the functions of your body and if you eliminated it from your body you will die. Nitrogen facilitates the oxygen moving from the lungs into the bloodstream. If you breathe pure oxygen too long you create a situation where the oxygen can no longer pass into the bloodstream. Hence you die because of lack of oxygen in your bloodstream. Nitrogen also facilitates the nerves to communicate with one another and if you breathe pure oxygen too long you can experience a seizure, it is not the oxygen that causes it but the lack of nitrogen in your system. I myself have breathe pure oxygen at 2.2 atm in a hyperbaric chamber for over two hours with no problem. I know of some individuals have breathe as long as four hours with no problem. To be safe in a Hyperbaric Chamber the industry recommends breathing air in the chamber for five minutes after breathing oxygen for 1/2 hour. This is done to make sure that you do not deplete your body of nitrogen. So when this book starts out with a total misunderstanding of oxygen, I question the rest of the science in this book!

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kindle Customer
  • Kindle Customer
  • 12-17-21

It's a biology book

This book is not about the chemistry and physics of oxygen. It is about biology and life sciences.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Sam Lucas
  • Sam Lucas
  • 05-14-21

incredibly interesting

so much more interesting than I could of imagined. Fairly academic in places but 100% worth reading

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for SilverWave
  • SilverWave
  • 12-30-21

Brilliant. Great book, engaging, fascinating and enlightening

Read this book after seeing an article about birds flying over the Himalayas. It was also the best book about basic metabolic processes, mDNA, ATP, cell division, mitochondria & cell signalling. What a fantastic treasure. The only issue is the material being based around the year 2000 but that has just made me want to look up further current information on the basic issues raised. Brilliant.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ian Davidson
  • Ian Davidson
  • 06-16-21

Oxygen and its entwined history with the evolution of life.

Nick Lane once again writes a popular science book for both scientists and the general public eager to learn more about life as we know it, it’s complex relation with oxygen and the implications for longevity.

Access able to most and yet stimulating enough for those scientist from all disciplines of science and science educators.

I thought the narration was clear and compelling.

I can’t wait to read/ listen to another book by Nick Lane as he write so well and there are many to choose from.

5🌟 rating from me.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for clare james
  • clare james
  • 06-06-21

Oxygen

Outstanding concepts some overall technical for a no biologist but raises fascinating questions and great insights, dispelling many myths.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Petr Palacky
  • Petr Palacky
  • 09-03-20

great

Far more interesting than a book of such subject deserved to be. I enjoyed from start to finish.