Today's science tells us that our bodies are filled with molecular machinery that orchestrates all sorts of life processes. When we think, microscopic "channels" in our brain cells' membranes open and close; when we run, tiny "motors" in our muscle cells' membranes spin; and when we see, light operates "molecular switches" in our eyes and nerves. A molecular-mechanical vision of life has become commonplace in both the halls of philosophy of science departments and the offices of drug companies developing "proton pump inhibitors" or medicines such as Prozac. Membranes to Molecular Machines explores just how late twentieth-century science came to think of our cells and bodies this way. This story is told through the lens of membrane research, an unwritten history at the crossroads of molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology and the neurosciences, that directly feeds into today's synthetic biology as well as nano- and biotechnology. Mathias Grote shows how these sciences have not only made us think differently about life, they have, by reworking what membranes and proteins represent in laboratories, allowed us to manipulate life as "active matter" in new ways. Covering the science of biological membranes since the mid-1960s, this book connects that history to contemporary work with optogenetics, a method for stimulating individual neurons using light, and should appeal to scholars interested in the intersection of chemical research and the life sciences.