The Emergence of Life on Earth: A Historical and Scientific Overview

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Rutgers University Press, 2000 - Science - 327 pages
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"Essential reading for people in disciplines ranging from philosophy to biology. It is simply 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 "A rich source for the specialist and thought-provoking reading for the lay person." Gunter Wachtershauser, University of Regensburg, Germany 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 anaylsis, 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. Topics inclue: - Aristotle and the Greek atomists' conceptions of the organism - Alexander Oparin and J.B.S. Haldane's 1920s breakthrough papers - Possible life on Mars?
 

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Contents

INTRODUCTION THE ORIGIN OF LIFEA SUBJECT WITH A PAST AND A FUTURE i
1
SPONTANEOUS GENERATIONUPS AND DOWNS
17
THE REVIVAL OF THE BELIEF IN SPONTANEOUS GENERATION
28
LOUIS PASTEURTHE DEATHBLOW TO SPONTANEOUS GENERATION
37
BETWEEN PASTEUR AND DARWINA DEAD END
54
THEOPARINHALDANE HYPOTHESIS
65
AN ERA OF OPTIMISM
79
EVOLUTION IN A TEST TUBE
89
I0 CRISISREAL OR FICTITIOUS?
112
THE RNA WORLDA CASE FOR RENEWED OPTIMISM?
135
AND YET METABOLISM
150
THE EMERGENCE OF LIFENEITHER BY CHANCE
179
LIFE ON MARS? SO WHAT?
217
BIBLIOGRAPHY
285
INDEX
301
Copyright

MANFRED EIGENS MODEL
100

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About the author (2000)

Fry is an adjunct teaching associate at The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, Tel Aviv University.

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