Uniting the conceptual foundations of the physical sciences and biology, this groundbreaking multidisciplinary book explores the origin of life as a planetary process. Combining geology, geochemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, evolution and statistical physics to create an inclusive picture of the living state, the authors develop the argument that the emergence of life was a necessary cascade of non-equilibrium phase transitions that opened new channels for chemical energy flow on Earth. This full colour and logically structured book introduces the main areas of significance and provides a well-ordered and accessible introduction to multiple literatures outside the confines of disciplinary specializations, as well as including an extensive bibliography to provide context and further reading. For researchers, professionals entering the field or specialists looking for a coherent overview, this text brings together diverse perspectives to form a unified picture of the origin of life and the ongoing organization of the biosphere.
"In fifty-plus essays, . . . Morowitz, a distinguished biophysicist . . .muses over questions that arise in the course of his daily life, his scientific research, and his miscellaneous reading." Some essays require a scientific vocabulary and knowledge; others are comprehensible and interesting to a lay person. The author has a sense of humor which lightens even the dryest of the essays. "Why do pizzas stay hot? Why are olives edible? How does ice carry electricity? Why is blood redder in the tropics? How much is a fingertip worth? Why do camps require health forms? What do drooping eyelids, electric eels, and curare have in common? What was the secret of the sphinx?" .
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