How did life emerge on Earth? Is there life on other worlds? These questions, until recently confined to the pages of speculative essays and tabloid headlines, are now the subject of legitimate scientific research. This book presents a unique perspective-a combined historical, scientific, and philosophical analysis, which does justice to the complex nature of the subject.
The book's first part offers an overview of the main ideas on the origin of life as they developed from antiquity until the twentieth century. The second, more detailed part of the book examines contemporary theories and major debates within the origin-of-life scientific community.
"A rich source for the specialist and thought-provoking reading for the lay person."
- Gunter Wachtershauser, University of Regensburg, Germany
"Essential reading for people in disciplines ranging from philosophy to biology. It is simple the best general book that I know on the question of the origin of life."
- Michael Ruse, author of Mystery of Mysteries: Is Evolution a Social Construction?
"Fry has fashioned a masterful account of the history, philosophy, and science of the origin of life and the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Her story weaves profound Western ideas of who we are and where we came from, from Aristotle to Gould, from Kant to NASA."
- Woodruff Sullivan, University of Washington