Biogenesis: Theories of Lifes Origin

Paperback | June 1, 1998

byNoam Lahav

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Biogenesis provides a detailed, critical discussion of the modern scientific study of the origin of life. It covers the entire history, including the biological, geological, and cosmological background. The author explains the rationale behind the main assumptions and experimental strategiesof the study of the origin of life, and reviews its plethora of theories, models, scenarios, and controversies. The book begins with the history of the search for life's origin from the Greek philosophers to contemporary scientists. The author introduces the reader to important aspects of scientific thinking, and covers the biases, successes, and failures of these thinkers. Part II succinctly describesselected attributes of life, which are connected to theories and controversies of the studies of the origin of life. The main features of the solar system and Earth, where life is assumed to have originated, are briefly reviewed in Part III. This section covers the formation of the planet, itsprimordial atmosphere and seas, and the Gaia theory. Part IV investigates the rationale of the scientific theories of the origin of life. It begins with the fundamental assumptions and guidelines, as well as the main experimental strategies used by origin-of-life researchers. The book proceeds witha search for clues in both the geological and biological records. It concludes with a critical, but objective discussion of the main reactions, processes, models, and scenarios suggested for the emergence of various attributes of life in prebiotic environment and the transition from inanimate toanimate.

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Biogenesis provides a detailed, critical discussion of the modern scientific study of the origin of life. It covers the entire history, including the biological, geological, and cosmological background. The author explains the rationale behind the main assumptions and experimental strategiesof the study of the origin of life, and revie...

Noam Lahav is at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 9.09 × 5.98 × 0.71 inPublished:June 1, 1998Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195117557

ISBN - 13:9780195117554

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Table of Contents

PrefacePrologue. On Universes, Elements, Planets, and LifePart I. History of the Search Into the Origin of Life: On the Shoulders of So Many1. From Myths to Logos to Stagnation2. Experimental Biology of the 17th Century3. Systematic Biology, Doubts and Uncertainties: The 18th Century4. Demise and Resurrection of the Spontaneous Generation School: Pasteur and Darwin5. The Modern Era: Spontaneous Generation at the Molecular LevelPart II. Central Features of Life as We Know It In Our Phylogenetic Tree6. A General Morphological-Functional Characterization of the Cell7. General Chemical, Biochemical, and Molecular-Biological Characterization8. General Thermodynamic Considerations9. Central Biochemical Molecules and Processes10. Biological Conservation and Continuity and the Phylogenetic Tree11. Biological Life: A Multitude of Points of ViewPart III12. Our Universe, Galaxy and Solar System13. Planet EarthPart IV. Beyond the Progenote: Rationale, Strategies, Scenarios, and Models in the Search of the Origin of Life14. Basic Assumptions and Strategies15. Clues and Speculations by Back-Extrapolation from Cosmology and Geology16. Clues From Biology: Evolution, Conservationism, Continuity, and Their Implications17. Top-Down Reconstruction of Processes and Early Evolutionary Stages without Specific Geochemical Consideration18. Bottom-Up Reconstruction Without Specific Biogeochemical Conditions19. Bottom-Up Biogeochemical Reconstruction: Starting From Organic Scratch in the Absence of Minerals20. Bottom-Up Biogeochemical Reconstruction: Minerals Functioning as Scaffolds, Adsorbents, Catalysts, and Information Carriers21. Bottom-Up Biogeochemical Reconstructions: Mineral Involvement in Energy Production and Transfer22. Possible Sites for Molecular Evolution Scenarios and Their Rhythms23. Computer Modeling of Biogeochemical Scenarios

Editorial Reviews

"Before we can even address the origin of life, there looms the question of what life is anyway. In Biogenesis, Lahav quotes definitions of life culled from the scientific literature from 1855 to 1997. We see the special concerns of each, from Spenser's emphasis on evolution, toSchrodinger's on the law of physics, to Kauffman's on complexity theory. In pursuit of answers, scientists are using every technique from laboratory experiments to deep sea exploration to computer simulations. The most complete account of every approach and each important concept, theory, andexperiment is found in this book. It is an invaluable resource for all serious students of origin-of-life research. Although much of this book is very technical, it is written in a highly accessible style. It is an outstanding contribution to the field." - Lucy Horwitz, Boston Book Review, March2000