Life Explained

Life Explained

by Michel Morange
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0300150830

ISBN-13: 9780300150834

Pub. Date: 10/20/2008

Publisher: Yale University Press

Fifty years ago Francis Crick and James D. Watson proposed the double helix model for the DNA molecule. They believed they had, as Crick put it, discovered the “secret of life,” and many agreed. But in the intervening years, science has marched—sometimes leaped—forward, and now the question “What is life?” must be posed once again.

Overview

Fifty years ago Francis Crick and James D. Watson proposed the double helix model for the DNA molecule. They believed they had, as Crick put it, discovered the “secret of life,” and many agreed. But in the intervening years, science has marched—sometimes leaped—forward, and now the question “What is life?” must be posed once again.

In this accessible and fascinating book, Michel Morange draws on recent advances in molecular genetics, evolutionary biology, astrobiology, and other disciplines to find today’s answers to the question of life. He begins by discussing the various answers that have been formulated in the past, setting contemporary definitions of life within a rich philosophical and scientific tradition that reaches back to ancient Greece. Then, with impeccable logic and a wealth of appropriate detail, Morange proceeds to lay out the fundamental characteristics that define life. The road to an understanding of life remains incompletely charted, he concludes, but the nature of its final destination is no longer an enigma.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300150834
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
10/20/2008
Pages:
284
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Table of Contents

Contents

Preface....................ix
Part I The Death and Resurrection of Life....................1
ONE The Twilight of Life....................3
TWO Life as Genetic Information....................9
THREE The Return of Life....................16
Part II The Question in Historical Perspective....................25
FOUR A Rich Heritage....................27
FIVE Contemporary Answers....................35
Part III Contributions of Current Research 47 SIX Looking for Life's Past....................49
SEVEN Retracing the Path of Life....................59
EIGHT Reading the Palimpsest of Life....................72
NINE Life Under Extreme Conditions....................78
TEN The Search for a Minimal Genome....................85
ELEVEN Astrobiological Investigations....................90
TWELVE Life as a Living System....................101
Part IV A Few Necessarily Provisional Conclusions....................111
THIRTEEN Objections and Replies....................113
FOURTEEN Darwinism in Its Proper Place....................121
FIFTEEN The Lure of Complexity....................133
SIXTEEN The Three Pillars of Life....................141
Conclusion....................151
Notes....................157
Bibliography....................179
Index....................197

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