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Between Necessity and Probability: Searching for the Definition and Origin of Life (Advances in Astrobiology and Biogeophysics) 2004th Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-3540204909
ISBN-10: 3540204903
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Editorial Reviews


From the reviews:

"In exobiology one can never expect ultimate answers, only illumination. This is indeed what the book does, and what makes it interresting in its field, in giving an interim status report. The very extensive references list makes clear that we are far from any paradigma in exobiology, despite the fact that a lot happened since the appearance of Schroedingers booklet "What is Life?" in 1944.

"Popa’s contribution is a wide ranging critique of current thinking on life’s origin. For those familiar with the problem, this is an engaging personal viewpoint." (P J Wilkinson, The Physicist Jan./Feb. 2005, vol. 42, page 33)

"The book … aims to report new developments in research and teaching in the inter-disciplinary fields of astrobiology and biogeophysics. This encompasses all aspects of research into the origins of life – from the creation of matter to the emergence of complex life forms … . The hard cover book is nicely edited following Springer’s high-quality standards." (Roland Carchon, Physicalia, Vol. 57 (3), 2005)

"This is an interesting book that attempts to systematize life and its origin in an information-theoretic manner. … The two most important themes are hierarchies and phase transitions as properties of life. … In conclusion, a book for the specialist astrobiologist – trained in both biochemistry and biophysics – in search of novel ideas." (Alex Ellery, International Journal of Astrobiology, Vol. 6 (2), 2007)

From the Back Cover

This study investigates the major theories of the origins of life in light of modern research with the aim of distinguishing between the necessary and the optional and between deterministic and random influences in the emergence of what we call ‘life.’ Life is treated as a cosmic phenomenon whose emergence and driving force should be viewed independently from its Earth-bound natural history. The author synthesizes all the fundamental life-related developments in a comprehensive scenario, and makes the argument that understanding life in its broadest context requires a material-independent perspective that identifies its essential fingerprints.

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Product Details

  • Series: Advances in Astrobiology and Biogeophysics
  • Hardcover: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Springer; 2004 edition (March 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3540204903
  • ISBN-13: 978-3540204909
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,132,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
How did life originate? Well, it's a wide open question. As Popa tells us, an explanation that is missing a critical step won't do. There are plenty of clues. But Popa shows us that there are still many approaches to putting the clues together.

There are plenty of approaches that are being pursued today. Popa tells us about many of them. Still, let's remind ourselves of some of them. One is to look for fossil evidence and DNA evidence of our earliest ancestors. Say that these turn out to be hyperthermophiles. Use that information, as well as the stability properties of RNA and DNA, to deduce the environment life originated in. A second idea is to look at the way we synthesize RNA (or DNA) today. Use that information to speculate about how the first RNA and DNA evolved. A third idea is to look at the self-assembly properties of entities for clues. A fourth idea is to note the similarity of ATP and the nucleic acid adenine. Assume this is no coincidence! A fifth idea is to do all sorts of experiments with collections of monomers and see if they arrange themselves into replicating strings. A sixth idea is to concentrate on computer simulations of all this. Computer simulations of the origin of replication show that there are some dangers, such as the "selfish RNA catastrophe," the "short-circuit catastrophe," the "population collapse catastrophe," and simply the risk of too many replication errors. Draw conclusions from the fact that these hazards were successfully avoided. A seventh idea is to at least answer the question of what came first, replication, metabolism, or cellularization. And so on. It seems that there is a great deal we aren't at all sure of.
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