The New York Times

Life, Constricted

WHY WE SHOULD NEVER EXPECT TO DISCOVER SENTIENT ICE CUBES.

“The Equations of Life: How Physics Shapes Evolution”

By Charles S. Cockell

337 pages. Basic Books. $32.

A newcomer to the cantina in the pirate city of Mos Eisley in a galaxy far away would be confronted by a crowd of intimidating thugs: Rodians, Devaronians, Ithorians, Morseerians, Lutrillians, Siniteens and other alien buccaneers swilling liquor and picking fights while a band of hairless Biths play some kind of cosmic jazz.

This article originally appeared in .

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The New York Times

The New York Times7 min read
Your 5G Phone Won't Hurt You. But Russia Wants You to Think Otherwise.
The cellphones known as 5G, or fifth generation, represent the vanguard of a wireless era rich in interconnected cars, factories and cities. Whichever nation dominates the new technology will gain a competitive edge for much of this century, accordin
The New York Times6 min read
Why You Should Try to Be a Little More Scarce
Conventional wisdom tells us we should eagerly embrace every opportunity that comes our way, but playing a little hard to get has its advantages.
The New York Times4 min read
A Savagely Funny Writer Shows a Bleak Side
A man is falling from the sky, falling slowly, like a petal. He lands on the sands of an unknown desert with his torn parachute, more dead than alive. There is no sign of his American fighter plane, its American bombs. He is frighteningly calm. None