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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"...provides the best overview of the 'origin of life' field for the non-specialist reader that I have encountered. I think that even those who are familiar with most of its contents will enjoy the presentation." - Nature "For a better view of how science really works, turn to this wonderfully engaging account of modern research into the dawn of biology...The book climaxes with a stunningly clever new hypothesis of how the first RNA molecules could have arisen spontaneously. Fascinating, Captain." - The Guardian "This is the best origins-of-life account that I have seen, for both professionals and philosophers. Others who are interested but uninformed will find the story stretches their minds - and rewards the effort." - BBC Focus"