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The Molecular Origins of Life
Assembling Pieces of the Puzzle

  • Editor: Andri Brack, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris
André Brack, Tobias C. Owen, James F. Kasting, Lisa L. Brown, Stanley L. Miller, Nils G. Holm, Eva M. Anderson, Armand H. Delsemme, John R. Cronin, Michel Maurette, David W. Deamer, Günter Wächtershauser, Christian de Duve, Alan W. Schwartz, James P. Ferris, Kenneth D. James, Andrew W. Ellington, Jens Burmeister, Günter von Kiedrowski, Karl O. Stetter, J. William Schopf, François Raulin, Christopher P. McKay
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  • Date Published: March 1999
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521564120

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About the Authors
  • The origin of life was an event probably unique in the Earth's history, and reconstructing this event is like assembling a puzzle made up of many pieces. These pieces are composed of information acquired from many different disciplines. The aim of this 1999 book is to integrate discoveries in astronomy, planetology, palaeontology, biology and chemistry, and use this knowledge to present plausible scenarios that give us a better understanding of the likely origin of life on Earth. Twenty-three top experts contribute chapters that discuss everything from the environment and atmosphere of the early Earth, through the appearance of organic molecules in the prebiotic environment, to primitive chiral chemical systems capable of self-replication and evolution by mutation. The book also discusses various clues to the origin of life that can be obtained by a study of the past and present microbial world, as well as from Saturn's moon Titan and the planet Mars. Chemists, biologists, earth scientists, and astronomers will find this book a thought-provoking summary of our knowledge of this extraordinary event.

    • Very high public interest in the question of the origins of life
    • Non partisan, balanced account
    • Chapters written by internationally renowned experts including André Brack (President of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life), J. William Schopf, Stanley Miller, and Nobel Prize winner, Christian de Duve
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Every chapter in this book is relevant and interesting … a 'must' for the departmental library.' Dorian Pritchard, British Society for Developmental Biology

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 1999
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521564120
    • length: 428 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 159 x 31 mm
    • weight: 0.81kg
    • contains: 105 b/w illus. 23 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of contributors
    Introduction André Brack
    Part I. Setting the Stage:
    1. The origin of the atmosphere Tobias C. Owen
    2. The early atmosphere as a source of biogenic compounds James F. Kasting, and Lisa L. Brown
    Part II. Organic Molecules on the Primitive Earth:
    3. The endogenous synthesis of organic compounds Stanley L. Miller
    4. Hydrothermal systems Nils G. Holm, and Eva M. Andersson
    5. Cosmic origin of the biosphere Armand H. Delsemme
    6. Meteorites John R. Cronin
    7. Micrometeorites on the early Earth Michel Maurette
    Part III. Possible Starts for Primitive Life:
    8. Membrane compartments in prebiotic evolution David W. Deamer
    9. A step-by-step analysis of the early chemistry of life in an iron-sulfur world Günter Wächtershauser
    10. The thioester world Christian de Duve
    11. Origins of the RNA world Alan W. Schwartz
    12. Catalysis of RNA synthesis: a possible route from prebiotic chemistry to the RNA world James P. Ferris
    13. Catalysis in the RNA world Kenneth D. James, and Andrew W. Ellington
    14. Self-replication and autocatalysis Jens Burmeister, and Günter von Kiedrowski
    Part IV. Clues from the Bacterial World:
    15. Hyperthermophiles and their possible role as ancestors of modern life Karl O. Stetter
    16. Tracing the roots of the universal tree of life J. William Schopf
    Part V. Clues from Other Planets:
    17. Titan François Raulin
    18. Life on Mars Christopher P. McKay
    Part VI. Conclusion André Brack.

  • Editor

    Andri Brack, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris

    Contributors

    André Brack, Tobias C. Owen, James F. Kasting, Lisa L. Brown, Stanley L. Miller, Nils G. Holm, Eva M. Anderson, Armand H. Delsemme, John R. Cronin, Michel Maurette, David W. Deamer, Günter Wächtershauser, Christian de Duve, Alan W. Schwartz, James P. Ferris, Kenneth D. James, Andrew W. Ellington, Jens Burmeister, Günter von Kiedrowski, Karl O. Stetter, J. William Schopf, François Raulin, Christopher P. McKay

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