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The Origin and Nature of Life on Earth
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Book description

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 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

'The Origin and Nature of Life on Earth reads more like a well-executed textbook, one that covers much of what you need to know to jump in and start researching the origins of life. … For physicists wishing to dive headfirst into the origin-of-life field, this book is a great place to start … the book is not merely a compendium of existing knowledge; it offers genuinely new perspectives. [The authors] turn scientists' conventional origin stories on their heads. Rather than focus strictly on the chemical origin of life, they regard life as a planetary process … they introduce the idea of life as a 'fourth geosphere' that complements the other three: the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere. In so doing, they make the problem of the origin of life one that may be tractable for physicists, and they lay out a possible framework for how to do it.'

Sara I. Walker Source: Physics Today

'For those interested in an easy-to-follow introduction to this fascinating topic …'

Graham Godfrey Source: The Biologist

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