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The Origin and Nature of Life on Earth
The Emergence of the Fourth Geosphere

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  • Date Published: March 2016
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107121881

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About the Authors
  • Uniting the conceptual foundations of the physical sciences and biology, this groundbreaking multidisciplinary book explores the origin of life as a planetary process. Combining geology, geochemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, evolution and statistical physics to create an inclusive picture of the living state, the authors develop the argument that the emergence of life was a necessary cascade of non-equilibrium phase transitions that opened new channels for chemical energy flow on Earth. This full colour and logically structured book introduces the main areas of significance and provides a well-ordered and accessible introduction to multiple literatures outside the confines of disciplinary specializations, as well as including an extensive bibliography to provide context and further reading. For researchers, professionals entering the field or specialists looking for a coherent overview, this text brings together diverse perspectives to form a unified picture of the origin of life and the ongoing organization of the biosphere.

    • The only book that combines high-level perspectives from geochemistry, biochemistry, microbiology and physics to form an inclusive picture of the origin of life
    • Offers a view of the nature of the living state that is radically different from the traditional scientific view of life as a property of organisms
    • Includes the only conceptually modern treatment of thermodynamic ideas directed towards the origin of life and provides a free standing introduction to these ideas
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    Awards

    • Honourable Mention, 2017 PROSE Award for Chemistry and Physics

    Reviews & endorsements

    '… the most significant book on the origin of life hitherto written.' Walter Fontana, Harvard University, Massachusetts

    'This is a truly unusual work of scholarship, which offers both novel perspectives on a huge range of disciplines and a model of scientific synthesis. This is a remarkable, and remarkably impressive, book.' Cosma Shalizi, Carnegie Mellon University

    '… an exceptionally important, highly original, unique scientific contribution …' Elbert Branscomb, University of Illinois

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107121881
    • length: 691 pages
    • dimensions: 256 x 177 x 36 mm
    • weight: 1.51kg
    • contains: 64 colour illus. 4 maps 5 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Acknowledgements
    Preface
    1. The planetary scope of biogenesis
    2. Life on Earth today
    3. The geochemical context for the biosphere
    4. The architecture of metabolism
    5. Higher-level structures
    6. Emergence of the biosphere
    7. The phase transition paradigm for emergence
    8. The nature of the living state
    Epilogue. References
    Index.

  • Authors

    Eric Smith, Tokyo Institute of Technology
    Eric Smith is External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, Research Professor at George Mason University and Principle Investigator at the Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology. He is a physicist specializing in the origin of life, non-equilibrium systems, economics and the evolution of human languages.

    Harold J. Morowitz, George Mason University, Virginia
    Harold J. Morowitz is Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Biology and Natural Philosophy at George Mason University. He was founding director of the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study at George Mason University, and is Chairman Emeritus of the Science Board at the Santa Fe Institute.

    Awards

    • Honourable Mention, 2017 PROSE Award for Chemistry and Physics

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