The discovery of "extremophilic" life that thrives in hot, cold, pressurized, desiccated, and acidic environments has necessitated a rethinking of elemental biology and revived expectations about extraterrestrial life existing in the solar system. Gross, a biochemist, explains the adaptiveness of life to stress in terms of the resilience of the cell. It can respond to the huge range of nature's insults, thanks to a first-aid kit that deploys various proteins in response to cold or heat. Gross examines those proteins with the aid of molecular diagrams and examples of organisms from such places as Antarctica and the Dead Sea before proceeding to the fascinating question of life's origins. Quite possibly, extremophilic microbes, named archaebacteria
, are the most ancient life-forms. Their RNA protein has revealed some unusual properties that Gross describes as nontechnically as possible. Gross closes with thoughts on the prospect of finding extremophiles on Mars. The book constitutes an accessible introduction to an exciting outpost on the scientific frontier. Gilbert Taylor
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A fascinating introduction to the subject [of life in extreme environments]. Challenging in parts--but well worth the effort." -- New Scientist