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The Emergence of Life: From Chemical Origins to Synthetic Biology

There is a newer edition

The Emergence of Life

Addressing the emergence of life from a systems biology perspective, this...

NHBS Price: £46.99 $61/€53 approx

By: Pier Luigi Luisi(Author)

315 pages, illustrations, tables

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Aug 2010 | Edition: 1 | #226540 | ISBN-13: 9780521528016
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £40.99 $53/€46 approx
Hardback | Jul 2006 | Edition: 1 | #158726 | ISBN: 0521821177
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £71.99 $94/€82 approx

About this book

The origin of life from inanimate matter has been the focus of much research for decades, both experimentally and philosophically. Luisi takes the reader through the consecutive stages from prebiotic chemistry to synthetic biology, uniquely combining both approaches.

The Emergence of Life presents a systematic course discussing the successive stages of self-organisation, emergence, self-replication, autopoiesis, synthetic compartments and construction of cellular models, in order to demonstrate the spontaneous increase in complexity from inanimate matter to the first cellular life forms. A chapter is dedicated to each of these steps, using a number of synthetic and biological examples.

With end of chapter review questions to aid reader comprehension, The Emergence of Life will appeal to graduate students and academics researching the origin of life and related areas such as evolutionary biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, biophysics and natural sciences.

"Charting the successful development of life is certainly a fascinating challenge and one which Luisi addresses head on in this book from both a scientific and philosophical standpoint. [...] This comprehensive volume will particularly suit those students and academics who wish to delve further into early natural history, either out of an innate curiosity or a more professional approach to unravel one of the true mysteries of nature."
Chemistry & Industry

"[...] the reviewer recommends this book for specialists in Earth and life sciences."
Zentralblatt für Geologie und Paläontologie

"This work is a fresh and exciting new look at a now long-established field. Because it is so fascinating to read, it is a work that I feel deserves to be in every library of science."
Chemistry World



1. The conceptual framework of the research on the origin of life on Earth
2. Approaches to the definitions of life
3. Selection in prebiotic chemistry - why this !and not that?
4. The bottle neck - macromolecular sequences
5. Self-organization
6. Emergence and emergent properties
7. Self-replication and self-reproduction
8. Autopoiesis - the logic of cellular life
9. Compartments
10. Reactivity and transformation of vesicles
11. Approaches to the minimal cell


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Pier Luigi Luisi became Professor Emeritus (Macromolecular Chemistry) at ETH-Zurich in 1982, where he was later made Dean; he is currently professor of Biochemistry at the University of Rome3. He has published prolifically on the origins of life and the science of complexity.

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