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The Emergence of Life: From Chemical Origins to Synthetic Biology Hardcover – July 17, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0521821179 ISBN-10: 0521821177 Edition: 1st

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The Emergence of Life: From Chemical Origins to Synthetic Biology + What is Life?: How Chemistry Becomes Biology + The Machinery of Life
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 332 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (July 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521821177
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521821179
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,019,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Review of the hardback: 'Charting the successful development of life is certainly a fascinating challenge and one which Luisi addresses head on in this book from both a scientific and philosophical standpoint. ... This comprehensive volume will particularly suit those students and academics who wish to delve further into early natural history, either out of an innate curiosity or a more professional approach to unravel one of the true mysteries of nature.' Chemistry & Industry

Review of the hardback: 'This work is a fresh and exciting new look at a now long-established field. Because it is so fascinating to read, it is a work that I feel deserves to be in every library of science.' Chemistry World

Review of the hardback: '... the reviewer recommends this book for specialists in Earth and life sciences.' Zentralblatt für Geologie und Paläontologie

Book Description

Uniquely combining biology and philosophy, this book offers a systematic course in the emergence of life from inanimate matter through to cellular life. With review questions included, this book will appeal to graduate students, academics and researchers in the field of the origin of life and other related areas.

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Customer Reviews

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The Emergence of Life by Pier Luigi Luisi is a thoughtful book.
Rob - ox in Brazil fields
This work brings the reader up to date with detailed and technical information from research papers that have been formerly published from all over the world.
F. Ramos
The author brings forth the concepts and the relevant experiments to those concepts.
Gary K. Coffman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Rob - ox in Brazil fields on March 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Emergence of Life by Pier Luigi Luisi is a thoughtful book. It is not a book where to find easy answers on how the life appeared on Earth. Rather, on the contrary. The author scholastic and erudition is impressive on subjects from fundamental physics and chemistry up to polictics and language. Luisi included topics as difficult to define as self-organization and emergence, not only in the biological and biochemical context, but also in social behaviour and economics, for example. The text is crystal-clear, based mostly on arguments from others, but also by the author's personal thinkings based on a life long scientific carreer (over 300 scientific publications), first at the ETH-Zurich (Switzerland) then at Rome 3 (Italy). The book is strongly based on scientific support and thoroughly referenced (over 500 scientific references, including papers of scientific journals and books), and includes an excellent subject index. Graphs and figures are of good support to understand the text. I really recommend it for readers interested on the non-trivial hypotheses of life arousal on Earth. A point (?): Luisi does not include any religious discussion in his book. I was very pleased with his well balanced way of thinking.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By California Star on January 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
How could life emerge from unanimate matter? Despite the importance of this question and its broad public interest, the field of research in origin-of-life is relatively undermined in the scientific community. This field doesn't offer a promising carrier for a young scientist, mainly because of its slow development and the fact that it doesn't benefit from recent technical progress, as is the case with other fields,
Therefore, as a result of its small scientific community, contrasted by its large public issue and demand, many books have been published on this topic, a wide range of which present chapters written by the same authors. The results is a great redundancy of information as well as scientific views. If you've read half a dozen books on the origin-of-life and you're looking for something fresher, more vibrant, which presents a new outlook on the subject, then stop looking, this is the book for you!

Pier Luigi Luisi is a chemist who has devoted his scientific carrier to this important question in modern biology. As author of over 400 peer-reviewed publications, he has covered a great deal of various approaches to the origin of life, as well as a multitude of other books on fields directly related to the subject, such as "Giant Vesicles" and "Self-Production of Supramolecular Structures" (also found in Amazon).

Luisi's "The Emergence of Life" is a systematic overview of the field, as seen from an insider.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By whiteelephant on July 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
In "The Emergence of Life", Pier Luigi Luisi gives an overview of synthetic biology, a field in which he has some 40+ years experience. In a sense this almost reads like a long review article, although Luisi's personal preferences and philosophy are presented most prominently. Luisi defines life on the basis of 'autopoeisis': "a system can be said to be living if it is able to transform external energy into an internal process of self-maintenance and production of its own components." Autopoeisis was a view of life first put forth by Chilean biologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela in the 1970s. A main point of Luisi's account is that this view was regrettably ignored in favor of nucleic acid reductionism. Luisi is optimistic, however, that the current trend towards systems biology is reviving many of the views of the Chilean school. It is worth noting that Varela was heavily involved at the interface of biology and Buddhism, and it appears as though Luisi has been as well - which might be one reason why some biologists are reluctant to embrace the word 'autopoiesis', even if they agree with the fundamental tenets.

Given this perspective, the book is quite critical of reductionist RNA-world accounts of the origin of life. While self-replicating RNA molecules might sound elegant, as Luisi puts it "in fact, we simply do not know how to make long polypeptides by prebiotic means". Luisi is more favorable towards 'compartmentalist' studies of synthetic biology that focus on micelles, liposomes, and vesicles in an attempt to create a 'minimal cell'. Much of the book is an overview of the research that has been done in this regard. It is full of references, and if you are not particularly keen on learning such details you might find it somewhat dry.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Gary K. Coffman on May 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be an excellent review of the scientific literature that relates to the chemistry of the origin of life. The author brings forth the concepts and the relevant experiments to those concepts. His diagrams and graphs are a great help towards understanding. I used it as a textbook this past year for an introductory course in which one has at least a college sophmore's knowledge of chemistry and biology. I will be using it again. The more valuable aspect for me was the review of the literature.
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