Verlegt von
Norton (2015-12)
Society & Social Sciences


Science and the Search for the Origin of Life

by Cleaves, JamesMesler, Bill

Epic story of the scientists through the ages who have sought answers to life’s biggest mystery: How did it begin?

How did life begin?

It is perhaps the most important question science has ever asked. Over the centuries, the search for an answer has been entwined with some of science’s most revolutionary advances including van Leeuwenhoek’s microscope, Darwin’s theory of evolution, and Crick and Watson’s unveiling of DNA. Now, in an age of genetic engineering and space exploration, some scientists believe they are on the verge of creating life from nonliving elements and that our knowledge of the potential for life on other planets is ever-expanding. In the midst of these exciting developments, A Brief History of Creation provides an essential and illuminating history of Western science, tracing the trials and triumphs of the iconoclastic scientists who have sought to uncover the mystery of how life first came to be.

Authors Bill Mesler and H. James Cleaves II examine historical discoveries in the context of philosophical debates, political change, and our evolving understanding of the complexity of biology. The story they tell is rooted in metaphysical arguments, in a changing understanding of the age of the Earth, and even in the politics of the Cold War. It has involved exploration into the inner recesses of our cells and scientific journeys to the farthest reaches of outer space. This elegantly written narrative culminates in an analysis of modern models for life’s genesis, such as the possibility that some of the earliest life was composed of little more than RNA, and that life arose around deep-sea hydrothermal vents or even on other planets, only to be carried to the Earth on meteorites.

Can we ever conclusively prove how life began? A Brief History of Creation is a fascinating exploration not only of the origin-of-life question but of the very nature of scientific objectivity and the process of scientific discovery.

Bill Mesler lives in Washington, DC.

H. James Cleaves II is vice president of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life, a professor at the Earth-Life Science Institute in Tokyo, and a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He lives in Washington, DC.

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A fascinating, fast-paced tour through the ages of how some of the greatest minds and characters in history have pondered one of the greatest questions in science. . . . [A] rich, masterfully woven tale of our still-evolving ideas about life and how it came to be.

Quote: Sean B. Carroll, Author

Italian: Bollati Boringhieri, Russian: Exmo, chinese simplified: Posts & Telecom press

Quote: Publisher

A lively, highly readable jaunt through the world of science.

Review: Kirkus

Readers find themselves positioned to share in the intellectual excitement.

Review: Booklist, starred

A joyous and infinitely readable history of our ongoing quest to know how we came to be. Mesler and Cleaves elegantly narrate the evolution of philosophical and scientific inquiry, infusing the subject with all the dramatic intrigue it deserves and bringing historical figures to life as vividly as characters in a novel. A thrilling read.

Quote: Nina Siegal, Author

A well-written and lively account of the science and history behind one of the most fascinating questions in science?how animate matter emerged from inanimate matter?enriched by engaging portraits of the scientists involved and a feel for the very human scientific enterprise at work.

Quote: Alan Lightman

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