The Spark of Life
"A highly readable survey of the historical prelude to the study of the origins of life, as well as selected areas of current research, including the search for extraterrestrial life."-NatureWhere did we come from? Did life arise on earth or on some other planet? What did the earliest primitive organisms look like? Untangling a century of contentious debate, the authors explore current theories of the source of life-from Martian meteors to hydrothermal vents-and then present their own elegant scenario: Life arose not in the subterranean depths, as many believe, but on Earth's tumultuous surface, where a primitive form of natural selection spawned the first genetic material, perhaps in the form of a proto-virus. Knowing exactly how life began on Earth will not only teach us more about ourselves, it will bring us closer to finding life elsewhere.
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adenine algae amino acids appeared archaea asteroid atmosphere bacteria beginning billion years ago building blocks carbon dioxide chemical chemistry chemists codon complex contain crust Darwin discovery early Earth energy environment enzyme evolution evolutionary evolved experiments FALL OF SPONTANEOUS Figure flask fossil gases genes genetic material Haldane heat huge hydrogen cyanide hydrothermal vents idea impacts Jupiter laboratory layer living cells living organisms Mars Martian membrane methane Miller minerals mitochondria mixture molecular molecules moon Murchison meteorite nucleic acids nucleobases ocean Oparin orbit organic compounds organic material organic molecules origin oxygen panspermia Pasteur peptide planet planetesimals prebiotic prebiotic soup primitive primordial soup probably produced proteinoids proteins protobionts reactions replication result ribozymes role samples scientists self-replicating simple Solar System soon space spacecraft SPARK star suggested surface survive symbioses symbiosis synthesized temperatures tiny tion University Urey vents volcanic