Steps towards life: a perspective on evolution
This fascinating work, co-authored by a Nobel Prize winning scientist, extends Darwin's ideas on natural selection back into evolutionary time and applies them to the molecular "fossil record" that preceded the origin of life. Using the techniques of molecular biology, the book demonstrates that life on Earth is the inevitable result of certain chance events that took place in the unique history of our planet. Further, we can not only precisely formulate the laws governing the emergence of life, but we can test them under controlled laboratory conditions. In fact, the authors show how it is perfectly possible to construct evolutionary accelerators--machines which optimize the conditions for certain events and which can be used to demonstrate their theoretical conclusions in laboratory experiments. The book is organized in three sections. The first 10 chapters form the main text. Each is introduced by quotations from Thomas Mann's classic novel The Magic Mountain, a work that is deeply concerned with the themes presented here in scientific form. In the second part, important biological ideas form the themes of 15 colorfully illustrated 'vignettes," which can be read separately or as elaborations on the main text. The final section summarizes key events in the history of molecular biology and includes an extensive glossary of technical terms. Written for a wide audience, and already highly successful in the original German edition, this book brings fresh insight to the search for evolutionary origins. In addition to general readers, who will find it clear and accessible, the book will interest students and scientists in biochemistry, molecular biology, microbiology, and evolution.
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Life is historical reality
Can the historical origin of life be reconstructed?
Complexity as a physical problem
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adapted amino acids anticodon appearance archaebacteria bacteriophage best-adapted catalytic cell's cellular chain chemical equilibrium chemistry chirality cloning codon coli compartment complementary complex components containing copying cycle Darwinian distance double-stranded efficiency Eigen encode energy-rich entropy error rate error threshold eucaryotic eucytes evolution evolutionary example function genes genetic code genetic information genetic recombination genome genotype host cell hydrogen hypercycle individual infection influenza virus integration mechanism metabolism microorganisms molecular biology molecules monomers mRNA mutants natural neutral mutants nucleic acids nucleotides optimal organisms origin oxygen phage phase phenotype physical plus-strand polymer polymerase population numbers position possible prebiotic precursor principle protein provirus quantitative quasi-species random reaction replication enzyme reproduction result RNA molecules RNA viruses selection value sequence space single single-stranded RNA species strand structure superior mutant symbols synthesis template theory thermodynamics thousand million tRNA units value landscape Vignette viral RNA virus wild type