James Lovelock: In Search of Gaia

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Princeton University Press, Apr 20, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 262 pages

In 1972, when James Lovelock first proposed the Gaia hypothesis--the idea that the Earth is a living organism that maintains conditions suitable for life--he was ridiculed by the scientific establishment. Today Lovelock's revolutionary insight, though still extremely controversial, is recognized as one of the most creative, provocative, and captivating scientific ideas of our time. James Lovelock tells for the first time the whole story of this maverick scientist's life and how it served as a unique preparation for the idea of Gaia.

Drawing on in-depth interviews with Lovelock himself and unprecedented access to his private papers, John and Mary Gribbin paint an intimate and fascinating portrait of a restless, uniquely gifted freethinker. In a lifetime spanning almost a century, Lovelock has followed a career path that led him from chemistry, to medicine, to engineering, to space science. He worked for the British secret service and contributed to the success of the D-Day landings in World War II. He was a medical experimenter and an accomplished inventor. And he was working with NASA on methods for finding possible life on Mars when he struck upon the idea of Gaia, conceiving of the Earth as a vast, living, self-regulating system.

Deftly framed within the context of today's mounting global-warming crisis, James Lovelock traces the intertwining trajectories of Lovelock's life and the famous idea it brought forth, which continues to provoke passionate debate about the nature and future of life on our planet.


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"James Lovelock" is the story not only of the man who coined the term "Gaia", but also the history of the development of this original and very compelling idea of how the Earth is not only a place where different species live together, but also it is a living being itself. I think that this theory is confirmed again and again each time se face earthquakes, natural disasters and all kind of catastrophes that make us feel that the Earth is moving and trying to get rid of the virus or the worm that is eating it; just as any body that tries to get rid of an infectious and unwelcome visitor. 


TWO A Child of His Time
THREE Gaia before Gaia
SEVEN The Revelation
EIGHT What Doesnt Kill You Makes You Strong
CODA Making an Invention

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About the author (2009)

John Gribbin is the author of In Search of Schrödinger's Cat (Bantam) and Deep Simplicity (Random House), among other books. He is a visiting fellow in astronomy at the University of Sussex. Mary Gribbin has written many books with John Gribbin, including The Science of Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" (Knopf) and Richard Feynman: A Life in Science (Dutton).

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