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Molecular Theory of Evolution: Outline of a Physico-Chemical Theory of the Origin of Life

By: Bernd-Olaf Küppers(Author), P Wooley(Translated by)

324 pages, 21 b/w illustrations


Paperback | Aug 1985 | #236536 | ISBN: 3540155287
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NHBS Price: £71.99 $94/€82 approx

About this book

The subject of this book is the physico-chemical theory of the origin of life. Although this theory is still in statu nascendi, it has been developed in recent years to the point where a coherent presentation is possible. Molecular Theory of Evolution is intended as an introductory text for students of physics, chemistry or biology. This interdisciplinary aim has necessitated a choice of material based on the lowest common denominator of physicists and biologists. In particular, the predominantly mathematical and biological sections have been presented at the most elementary level possible. The less mathematically inclined reader can omit Sections (5.3)-(5.5), (5.7)-(5.10), (6.2), (6.3), (9.1)-(9.3), (12.1) and (13.3) without losing the overall view.


I. The Molecular Basis of Biological Information
1. Definition of Living Systems
2. Structure and Function of Biological Macromolecules
      2.1. The Nucleic Acids
      2.2. The Proteins
      2.3. The Genetic Code
3. The Information Problem

II. Principles of Molecular Selection and Evolution
4. A Model System for Molecular Self-Organization
5. Deterministic Theory of Selection
      5.1. Phenomenological Equations
      5.2. Selection Constraint CP: Constant Population
      5.3. Solution of the CP Selection Equations
      5.4. The Quasi-Species
      5.5. Selection Dynamics in CP Systems
      5.6. Complementary Instruction and Selection in CP Systems
      5.7. Selection Constraint CF: Constant Fluxes
      5.8. Solution of the CF Selection Equations
      5.9. Selection Dynamics in CF Systems
      5.10. Competition and Co-existence in CF Systems
6. Stochastic Theory of Selection
      6.1. Fluctuations and Stability
      6.2. Markovian Processes
      6.3. Stochastic Treatment of Simple Selection Models

III. The Transition from the Non-Living to the Living
7. The Information Threshold
      7.1. The Quality Function
      7.2. Conditions for Stable Selection
      7.3. The Accuracy of Copying of Individual Symbols
      7.4. The Physics of Complementary Base Recognition
      7.5. Information Storage in Darwinian Systems
8. Self-Organization in Macromolecular Networks
      8.1. General Selection Equations
      8.2. Methods of Stability Analysis: Fixed Point Analysis
      8.3. Long-Term Behaviour of Self-Organizing Systems
9. Information-Integrating Mechanisms
      9.1. The Hypercycle - Basic Principles
      9.2. Dynamics of Elementary Hypercycles
      9.3. Selection Properties of Hypercycles
      9.4. The Catalytic Hypercycle
10. The Origin of the Genetic Code
      10.1. Probability of Nucleation
      10.2. Models of Prebiotic Translation
11. The Evolution of Hypercycles
      11.1. Self-Organization of Catalytic Hypercycles
      11.2. Compartmentation and Individuation of Hypercycles

IV. Model and Reality
12. Systems Under Idealized Boundary Conditions
      12.1. The Thermodynamic Framework
      12.2. Stationary and Periodic Boundary Conditions
13. Evolution in the Test-Tube
      13.1. The Q? Replicase System
      13.2. Darwinian Selection in vitro
      13.3. Experimental Perspectives: An Evolution Machine
14. Conclusions: The Logic of the Origin of Life

Mathematical Appendices
A.1. The Eigenvalue Problem
A.2. Linear Stability Analysis
A.3. The Method of Lagrange Multipliers
A.4. Stochastic Processes

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