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Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0671255633
ISBN-10: 0671255630
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone, Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (September 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671255630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671255633
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #732,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Many theories have been proposed for the origin of life on earth. All are highly speculative. Some are silly and others, more interesting, are perhaps even capable of being tested. In a class of its own, and at first glance a cop-out, is the hypothesis that life did not originate on earth at all, but was 'seeded' from outer space. First put forward seriously by the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius about 100 years ago and generally known as 'panspermia', the hypothesis is explored with wit and style in this book by Francis Crick. What it achieves is that it solves the embarrassing problem of how, within a few billion years after the earth cooled, extraordinary complex forms of self-reproducing entities appeared on earth. The price paid for this achievement is, of course, is that it begs the question entirely of how reproduction and metabolism could arise in the first place. Overall, I would rate the book as informative and thought-provoking. I recommend reading this book along with 'Origins' by Shapiro: that reviews, also wittily, the case for and against various theories for the origin of life ON earth.
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Format: Paperback
While many advances have been made in molecular biology/genomics since it's release in 1981, Life Itself gives any reader a unique, entertaining overview and perspective on the problem of how we got here. In short, an excellent and thought provoking book that even I (your average molecular biology student) can understand and recomend to your average creationist.
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Format: Paperback
Francis Crick (1916-2004) was a British molecular biologist, physicist, and neuroscientist, who was jointly awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine as one of the co-discoverers of the structure of the DNA molecule in 1953. In later years, Crick has been exploring more "philosophical" areas of science (see his books such as Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul and What Mad Pursuit: A Personal View of Scientific Discovery, as well as the present book).

Crick states that "life is probably a happy accident which, even in the extended laboratory of the planet's surface, is likely to have taken many millions of years to occur." (pg. 39) Then he admits, "Life, from this point of view, is an infinitely rare event, and yet we see it teeming all around us. How can such rare things be so common?" (pg. 53) He states, "An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going." (pg. 88)

But rather than a "miracle," Crick writes in the Preface, "In this book I explore a variant of panspermia which Leslie Orgel and I suggested a few years ago. To avoid damage, the microorganisms are supposed to have traveled in the head of an unmanned spaceship sent to earth by a higher civilization which had developed elsewhere some billions of years ago. This spaceship was unmanned so that its range would be as great as possible.
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This book is brilliant. Its perspective on time, matter, the universe, our lives, and aliens is all interesting and clear. What's funny about Francis Crick is that he's insanely clear while insanely deep and intelligent. He comes up with great metaphors for complex and abstract thoughts that make them simple and fun to read. This book will blow your mind and make you think. I am not totally sold on this book's wisdom, but it sure beats the religious takes on how we got here. "And god said, 'Let there be Crick!'"
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This was a ground-breaking idea for its time, and it was written by a man of outstanding scientific credentials. Francis Crick, though, pooh-poohs the ideas of UFOs and ancient astronauts, and he later joined the debunking organization CSICOP. This is strange given the theory he presents (at times well): that an advanced extraterrestrial society had deliberately seeded Earth with life by sending elemental life forms on a rocket ship over a vast distance. He was of the old school that believed distances between Earth and other inhabitable worlds is too vast for any advanced life forms to travel personally, and this antiquates part of his theory, but his observations about DNA and other aspects of life on Earth are thought-provoking.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You really have to admire any academic who steps out beyond the boundaries of what is expected, although, he had a little help by taking LSD every week which what gave him some of the original insights for the DNA molecule. A good read, although there are many books that are more updated with information on this subject. Personally, I think 'who we are' has a lot more to do with something else, but the subject of directed panspermia could explain how we arrived here in the first place. But it really appears like we have had some upgrades along the way, which I cover in my book To Believe Or Not To Believe: The Social and Neurological Consequences of Belief Systems

Rahasya Poe, Lotus Guide
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