Beginnings of Cellular Life: Metabolism Recapitulates Biogenesis

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Yale University Press, 2004 - Science - 208 pages
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In this book an internationally renowned scientist presents a radically new theory of the origin of life on Earth 4 billion years ago.

Harold J. Morowitz postulates that the first step toward the origin of life was the spontaneous condensation of amphiphilic molecules to form vesicles (or protocells). This hypothesis provides a framework for reexamining the emergence of cellularity. Morowitz further proposes that core metabolic processes have not changed for some 3.8 billion years, so we can use a study of modern biochemistry to advance our knowledge about the chemical processes of the earliest protocells. Morowitz views origin of life issues from the perspective of certain constructs in the philosophy of science that provide guideposts to formulating and assessing hypotheses. This book presents a unique discussion among origin-of-life books on the relation between science and epistemology on the difficult problem of learning about the very distant past.
 

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Contents

The Nature of the Problem
1
The Study of Origins
10
The TopDown Approach
28
Generalizations from Contemporary Biology
38
The Minimal Cell
59
The BottomUp Approach
69
Chemical Elements Hydrophobicity and
85
The Logic of Replication
98
Energy Complexity and Organization
113
Underlying Chemical Mechanisms
133
Networks
150
Lessons from Contemporary Biochemistry
160
The Scenario
172
Index
187
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