Steps Towards Life: Perspective on Evolution (Paperback)
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Short Description for Steps Towards Life In this work Professor Eigen attempts to explain his own work on evolution and his view of the links between chemistry, primordial biochemistry and the emergence of the first cell. He shows that the conditions for the beginning of life can also be explored in the laboratory by experiment.
- Published: 05 September 1996
- Format: Paperback 190 pages
- ISBN 13: 9780198547525 ISBN 10: 0198547528
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Full description for Steps Towards Life
Just how far back into our evolutionary history can we extend the ideas of natural selection which were propounded by Charles Darwin in "The Origins of the Species?" Do they apply only to organisms with complex biochemistry and recognizable behaviour?. In this book, already influential in its German language edition, the Nobel Prize winning scientist Manfred Eigen takes Darwin's ideas and applies them to molecules. The result is a fresh insight into the origins of life. The laws of physics have taught us the fundamental importance of "chance"; the laws of chemistry that, if certain pre-requisites are fulfilled, then subsequent events can be predicted precisely. Eigen draws together these fundamental ideas and shows us that life on Earth is the inevitable result of certain chance events that took place in the unique history of our planet. The book is in three parts. The first ten chapters, which form the main text, are introduced by quotations from Thomas Mann's novel "The Magic Mountain". This book is deeply concerned with ideas that Eigen is able to justify scientifically but which were, in 1924, the product of an extraordinarily prescient intellect. Here, as a counterpoint to the scientific text, they challenge us to wonder. In the second part, important biological ideas are presented as the themes of 15 "vignettes" which can be read separately or as elaborations of the subject matter of the main text. These vignettes are illustrated with colour diagrams. The final section contains a summary of the salient points of the history of molecular biology and a glossary of all the technical terms used throughout the book.