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Further readinglocked

  • Published in print: 29 September 2011
  • Published online: 24 September 2013
  • David S. Goodsell, The Machinery of Life, 2nd Edition (New York: Springer-Verlag, 2009). Explores the application of systems biology to individual cells, suggesting that they are controlled by molecular circuits that provide the basis of the properties of all living systems.
  • Lewis Wolpert, How We Live and Why We Die: The Secret Lives of Cells (London: Faber and Faber, 2009) for more general interest, and written for the interested lay reader rather than the undergraduate.
  • Nick Lane, Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005). An intriguing view of a particular cell component, the mitochondrion, which suggests that this organelle has been the moving force that has driven cells to their current level of complexity.
  • Denis Noble, The Music of Life: Biology Beyond Genes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006). A pioneer in systems biology, Noble argues the case that the reductionist view that ‘genes are everything’ needs to be balanced by a systems approach, using the analogy of music and the orchestra.
  • Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (New York: Random House, 2010). A ten-year study by the author chronicles the life and early death of the source of the first human cell line, together with an account of the scientific, social background and healthcare systems in the USA in the post-war years.
  • Bruce Alberts, Alexander Johnson, Julian Lewis, Martin Raff, Keith Roberts and Peter Walter, Molecular Biology of the Cell (New York: Garland Science, 2008). Classic textbook now in its 5th Edition.
  • Véronique Kleiner and Christian Sardet, Exploring the Living Cell DVD (Meudon, France: CNRS Images, 2006). Nineteen short films from top international institutes, covering cell discovery, cell structure and stem cell biology and ethics.
  • Websites

    Some of the leading science journals allow web access to current material:


  • Nature

  • Scientific American

  • New Scientist

  • Cell

  • Journal of Cell Science has free access to short explanations of specific topics in a series called Cell Science at a Glance.

  • The iBioMagazine, published by the American Society for Cell Biology, offers a collection of short (〈 15 min) talks that highlight the human side of research.

  • Molecular biology animations by John Kyrk.

  • Dynamic animations of cell structure, including a graphic representation of Tensegrity (University of Toronto).

  • Dennis Noble's elegant presentation of the contents of his own short volume The Music of Life is an entertaining 45-minute argument against reductionism using an orchestra as an analogue to the cell.

  • There are some good YouTube clips of recent discoveries explained by scientists. Apoptosis (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Melbourne) is worth viewing for its content, especially the sound effects.