Steps towards Life: A Perspective on Evolution

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9780198547518: Steps towards Life: A Perspective on Evolution

This fascinating work, co-authored by a Nobel Prize winning scientist, extends Darwin's ideas on natural selection back into evolutionary time and applies them to the molecular "fossil record" that preceded the origin of life. Using the techniques of molecular biology, the book demonstrates that life on Earth is the inevitable result of certain chance events that took place in the unique history of our planet. Further, we can not only precisely formulate the laws governing the emergence of life, but we can test them under controlled laboratory conditions. In fact, the authors show how it is perfectly possible to construct evolutionary accelerators--machines which optimize the conditions for certain events and which can be used to demonstrate their theoretical conclusions in laboratory experiments. The book is organized in three sections. The first 10 chapters form the main text. Each is introduced by quotations from Thomas Mann's classic novel The Magic Mountain, a work that is deeply concerned with the themes presented here in scientific form. In the second part, important biological ideas form the themes of 15 colorfully illustrated 'vignettes," which can be read separately or as elaborations on the main text. The final section summarizes key events in the history of molecular biology and includes an extensive glossary of technical terms. Written for a wide audience, and already highly successful in the original German edition, this book brings fresh insight to the search for evolutionary origins. In addition to general readers, who will find it clear and accessible, the book will interest students and scientists in biochemistry, molecular biology, microbiology, and evolution.

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About the Author:


Manfred Eigen won the Nobel Prize in 1967 for his research on very rapid chemical reactions. Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen since 1964, his interests are now focused on a rigorous exploration of the origins of life.

Language Notes:

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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