339 pages, illus
Tells the tale of transforming scientific advances in our quest for life's origins. This book attempts to portray the great adventure - the effort to deduce how life began on the ancient Earth.
"[...] provides the best overview of the 'origin of life' field for the non-specialist reader that I have encountered. I think that even those who are familiar with most of its contents will enjoy the presentation."
"For a better view of how science really works, turn to this wonderfully engaging account of modern research into the dawn of biology [...] The book climaxes with a stunningly clever new hypothesis of how the first RNA molecules could have arisen spontaneously. Fascinating, Captain."
– The Guardian
"This is the best origins-of-life account that I have seen, for both professionals and philosophers. Others who are interested but uninformed will find the story stretches their minds – and rewards the effort."
– BBC Focus
Foreword by David Deamer
Prologue - February 1996
Part I: EMERGENCE AND THE ORIGIN OF LIFE
Chapter 1: The Missing Law
Chapter 2: What is Life?
Chapter 3: Looking for Life
Chapter 4: Earth's Smallest Fossils
Chapter 5: Idiosyncrasies; Interlude - God in the Gaps
Part II: THE EMERGENCE OF BIOMOLECULES
Chapter 6: Stanley Miller's Spark of Genius
Chapter 7: Heaven or Hell?
Chapter 8: Under Pressure
Chapter 9: Productive Environments; Interlude - Mythos versus Logos
Part III: THE EMERGENCE OF MACROMOLECULES
Chapter 10: The Macromolecules of Life
Chapter 11: Isolation
Chapter 12: Minerals to the Rescue
Chapter 13: Left and Right; Interlude - Where Are the Women?
Part IV: THE EMERGENCE OF SELF-REPLICATING SYSTEMS
Chapter 14: Wheels Within Wheels
Chapter 15: The Iron-Sulfur World
Chapter 16: The RNA World
Chapter 17: The Pre-RNA World
Chapter 18: The Emergence of Competition
Chapter 19: Three Scenarios for the Origin of Life
Epilogue - The Journey Ahead
Notes and Bibliography
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Robert M. Hazen is a scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington and the Clarence Robinson Professor of Earth Science at George Mason University. Dr Hazen is the author of man books including The Breakthrough, Why Aren't Black Holes Black and the bestselling Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy which he co-authored with James Trefil.