Origins of Existence: How Life Emerged in the Universe

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9780743212625: Origins of Existence: How Life Emerged in the Universe
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In Origins of Existence astrophysicist Fred Adams takes a radically different approach from the long tradition of biologists and spiritual leaders who have tried to explain how the universe supports the development of life. He argues that life followed naturally from the laws of physics -- which were established as the universe burst into existence at the big bang. Those elegant laws drove the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets -- including some like our Earth. That chain of creation produced all the tiny chemical structures and vast celestial landscapes required for life. Ultimately, physical laws and the complexity they generate define the kind of biospheres that are possible -- from an Amazon rain forest to a frigid ocean beneath an ice sheet on a Jovian moon. Adams suggests that life was not merely some lucky break, but rather a natural outcome of the ascending ladder of complexity supported by our universe. Since our galaxy seems to harbor millions of planets with the same basic elements of habitability as Earth, the emergence of life is probably not a rare event. If life emerges deep inside planets and moons, as new research suggests happened on our planet, the number of viable habitats is truly enormous. Seven chronological chapters take the reader from the laws of physics and birth of the universe to the origins of life on Earth -- showing how energy flowed, exploded, and was repeatedly harnessed in replicating structures and organisms. In his groundbreaking first book, Fred Adams established the five eras of the universe with a focus on its long-term future. It is perhaps not surprising that he now turns his attention to the mystery of our astronomical origins. Here is a stunning new perspective, a book of genesis for our time, revealing how the laws of physics created galaxies, stars, planets, and even life in the universe.

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About the Author:

Fred Adams is a professor of physics at the University of Michigan. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and continued his research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He is the recipient of the Robert J. Trumpler Award from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the Helen B. Warner Prize from the American Astronomical Society, and the National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

From Publishers Weekly:

In his second book, University of Michigan physics professor Adams tells the earth's history, beginning with the emergence of our planetary biosphere from the primordial stew. While he believes that the guiding hand of physics shapes galaxies, stars and planets, and also brought about the emergence of life on earth, Adams contends that chaos and chance play a role in the cosmic ballet (he theorizes that the earth's moon is the byproduct of a cataclysmic accident). Adams tackled the complete biography of the cosmos in The Five Ages of the Universe (with Greg Laughlin) and continues here, focusing on the idea that life didn't evolve in a pond as the Victorian evolutionists first believed, but instead took root in the fiery furnaces beneath the earth's crust, the true Garden of Eden for heat-loving microbes. Where else on an evolving planet constantly buffeted by galactic debris could nascent life organize itself in relative peace and quiet? Adams sets up his narrative on the epochal scale before delivering, in one of the last chapters, on what his subtitle promises. There he discusses extraterrestrial life and parallel universes-those ruled by different physical laws. In the end, the author presents an engaging grand tour of galactic space-time.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9781501100086: Origins of Existence: How Life Emerged in the Universe

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ISBN 10:  1501100084 ISBN 13:  9781501100086
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