Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life's Origin

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9780309094320: Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life's Origin
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Life on Earth arose nearly 4 billion years ago, bursting forth from air, water, and rock. Though the process obeyed all the rules of chemistry and physics, the details of that original event pose as deep a mystery as any facing science. How did non-living chemicals become alive? While the question is (deceivingly) simple, the answers are unquestionably complex. Science inevitably plays a key role in any discussion of life’s origins, dealing less with the question of why life appeared on Earth than with where, when, and how it emerged on the blasted, barren face of our primitive planet. Astrobiologist Robert Hazen has spent many years dealing with the fundamental questions of life’s genesis. As an active research scientist, he is down deep in all the messy details that science has to offer on the subject, tracing the inexorable sequence of events that led to the complicated interactions of carbonbased molecules. As he takes us through the astounding process of emergence, we are witness to the first tentative steps toward lifeâ€"from the unfathomable abundance of carbon biomolecules synthesized in the black vacuum of space to the surface of the Earth to deep within our planet’s restless crust. We are privy to the breathtaking drama that rapidly unfolds as life prevails. The theory of emergence is poised to answer a multitude of questionsâ€"even as it raises the possibility that natural processes exist beyond what we now know, perhaps beyond what we even comprehend. Genesis tells the tale of transforming scientific advances in our quest for life’s origins. Written with grace, beauty, and authority, it goes directly to the heart of who we are and why we are here.

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About the Author:

Robert M. Hazen is a scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington and the Clarence Robinson Professor of Earth Science at George Mason University. Dr Hazen is the author of man books including The Breakthrough, Why Aren't Black Holes Black and the bestselling Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy which he co-authored with James Trefil.

From Publishers Weekly:

What is the meaning of life? Hazen (co-author, Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy) can't answer that, but he may be able to shed light on how life started. We're all familiar with the "primordial soup" theory: organic building blocks floating around in Earth's ocean four billion years ago combined to form the first primitive organisms. Hazen explains the many rival theories vying for public attention. The discovery of life near hydrothermal vents deep in the ocean have led some scientists to propose that life started there, while recent studies of microbes living in rock miles below Earth's surface point to even more radical genesis stories. The origin of life is a hotly contested scientific field, of which Hazen provides a balanced view, airing all the controversies, and only slightly favoring his own pet theory. He spends just as much time on the tools of the trade: the study of molecular fossils and even how we might search for life on other planets. His writing is clear and entertaining, giving a delightful look into his unpredictable experimental work without shying away from the complexity of the science. (Sept. 23)
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9780309103107: Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life's Origin

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ISBN 10:  030910310X ISBN 13:  9780309103107
Publisher: Joseph Henry Press, 2005
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