Life Evolving: Molecules, Mind, and Meaning

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In just a half century, humanity has made an astounding leap in its understanding of life. Now, one of the giants of biological science, Christian de Duve, discusses what we've learned in this half century, ranging from the tiniest cells to the future of our species and of life itself. With wide-ranging erudition, De Duve takes us on a dazzling tour of the biological world, beginning with the invisible workings of the cell, the area in which he won his Nobel Prize. He describes how the first cells may have arisen and suggests that they may have been like the organisms that exist today near deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Contrary to many scientists, he argues that life was bound to arise and that it probably only took millennia--maybe tens of thousands of years--to move from rough building blocks to the first organisms possessing the basic properties of life. With equal authority, De Duve examines topics such as the evolution of humans, the origins of consciousness, the development of language, the birth of science, and the origin of emotion, morality, altruism, and love. He concludes with his conjectures on the future of humanity--for instance, we may evolve, perhaps via genetic engineering, into a new species--and he shares his personal thoughts about God and immortality. In Life Evolving, one of our most eminent scientists sums up what he has learned about the nature of life and our place in the universe. An extraordinarily wise and humane volume, it will fascinate readers curious about the world around them and about the impact of science on philosophy and religion.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Nobel laureate Christian de Duve writes about science as lucidly as anybody alive. As a specialist in cell biology, he is especially qualified to examine the nature of life in its most basic and original forms. In this far-ranging and profound book, he lays out his final major thoughts on evolution, our place in the universe, and nature of consciousness and meaning.
From the Publisher
"A well-written, engaging scientific tour de force.... de Duve exhibits an extraordinary skill in conveying his deep knowledge of biology.... Both a first-rate scholar and an accomplished popularizer of Duve moves with equal familiarity and eloquence from scientific papers to French poets.... Life Evolving forces the reader to avoid intellectual complacency and to articulate one's own arguments to effectively address his position. These are, in themselves, major reasons to appreciate the book."—Science

"This book is addressed to the educated lay person interested in the origin of life, its evolution to the present day and its philosophical implications. The reader is in for a treat of unsurpassed lucid and poetic writing. It is the testament of one of the great biologist-philosophers of our time."—Gunter Blobel, Nobel Laureate in Physiology and Medicine

"An original thinker and graceful writer, Christian de Duve is an E.O. Wilson for the cell. In Life Evolving, De Duve lays bare the molecular machinery of life, finding both explanation of our evolutionary past and signs of what it will mean to be human in the twenty-first century."—Andrew H. Knoll, Fisher Professor of Natural History, Harvard University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195156058
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 360
  • Lexile: 1420L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Christian de Duve won the Nobel Prize in 1974 for his work on the organization of the cell. One of the best-known pioneers of cell biology, he is head of the Christian de Duve Institute of Cellular Pathology. He is the author of Vital Dust: Life as a Cosmic Imperative, Blueprint for a Cell: The Nature and Origins of Life, and A Guided Tour of the Living Cell. He shares his time between New York and Brussels.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
1 What Is Life? Chemistry 7
2 What Is Life? Information 25
3 Where Does Life Come From? 40
4 How Did Life Arise? The Way of RNA 57
5 How Did Life Arise? From RNA to Protein-DNA 68
6 How Did Life Arise? The Birth of Cells 85
7 The History of Life 98
8 The Invisible World of Bacteria 111
9 The Mysterious Birth of Eukaryotes: The Problem 119
10 The Mysterious Birth of Eukaryotes: A Possible Pathway 134
11 The Visible Revolution 152
12 The Arrow of Evolution 171
13 Becoming Human 189
14 The Riddle of the Brain 208
15 Reshaping Life 227
16 After Us, What? 251
17 Are We Alone? 270
18 How About God in All That? 284
Envoy 308
Notes 309
Index 333
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2008

    A remarkable gift by an enlightened scientist and philosopher

    A remarkable volume, compelling, erudite, thoughtful and thought provoking. An elegantly written treatise on science, philosophy, and religion.

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