Life's Origin The Beginnings of Biological Evolution

ISBN-10: 0520233913
ISBN-13: 9780520233911
Edition: 2002
List price: $34.95 Buy it from $14.24
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Description: Always a controversial and compelling topic, the origin of life on Earth was considered taboo as an area of inquiry for science as recently as the 1950s. Since then, however, scientists working in this area have made remarkable progress, and an  More...

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Book details

List price: $34.95
Copyright year: 2002
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 10/21/2002
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 256
Size: 6.00" wide x 8.75" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.748
Language: English

Always a controversial and compelling topic, the origin of life on Earth was considered taboo as an area of inquiry for science as recently as the 1950s. Since then, however, scientists working in this area have made remarkable progress, and an overall picture of how life emerged is coming more clearly into focus. We now know, for example, that the story of life's origin begins not on Earth, but in the interiors of distant stars. This book brings a summary of current research and ideas on life's origin to a wide audience. The contributors, all of whom received the Oparin/Urey Gold Medal of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life, are luminaries in the fields of chemistry, paleobiology, and astrobiology, and in these chapters they discuss their life's work: understanding the what, when, and how of the early evolution of life on Earth. Presented in nontechnical language and including a useful glossary of scientific terms,Life's Origingives a state-of-the-art encapsulation of the fascinating work now being done by scientists as they begin to characterize life as a natural outcome of the evolution of cosmic matter.

Introduction: The What, When, and How of Life's Beginnings
Historical Understanding of Life's Beginnings
What Is Life?
Beliefs and Hypotheses on the Origin of Life
Chemical Evolution
Personal Reminiscences
Cosmological Evolution and the Origin of Life
The Earth-Moon System
Exploration of the Solar System
Life beyond the Solar System
Epilogue
References
From Big Bang to Primordial Planet: Setting the Stage for the Origin of Life
Introduction
Origin of the Biogenic Elements
Origin of the Solar System
Earth
Further Reading
Formation of the Building Blocks of Life
Introduction
The Heterotrophic Origin of Life
Prebiotic Synthesis of Amino Acids
Prebiotic Synthesis of Nucleic Acid Bases
Prebiotic Synthesis of Sugars
Hydrothermal Vents and the Origin of Life
Extraterrestrial Organic Compounds and Prebiotic Evolution
An Autotrophic Origin of Life?
Have Too Many Cooks Spoiled the Soup?
References
From Building Blocks to the Polymers of Life
The Biopolymers in the First Life
The RNA World: The Prebiotic Synthesis of RNA
The Role of Polypeptides in the Origin of Life
Conclusions
References
Further Reading
The Origin of Biological Information
Introduction
The RNA World
What's Wrong with the Molecular Biologist's Dream?
The Metabolist Argument
Conclusion and Outlook
References
When Did Life Begin?
Introduction
Evidence from Living Organisms
Evidence from the Rock Record
When Was Earth Ready for Life?
The What and When of Life's Beginnings
Further Reading
List of Contributors
Glossary
Index

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