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 .

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