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"Fry has fashioned a masterful account of the history, philosophy, and science of the origin of life and the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Her story weaves profound Western ideas of who we are and where we came from, from Aristotle to Gould, from Kant to NASA." --Woodruff Sullivan, University of Washington
"A rich source for the specialist and thought-provoking reading for the lay person." Gunter Wachtershauser, University of Regensburg, Germany
How did life emerge on Earth? Is there life on other worlds? These questions, until recently confined to the pages of speculative essays and tabloid headlines, are now the subject of legitimate scientific research. This book presents a unique perspective--a combined historical, scientific, and philosophical anaylsis, which does justice to the complex nature of the subject.
The book's first part offers an overview of the main ideas on the origin of life as they developed from antiquity until the twentieth century. The second, more detailed part of the book examines contemporary theories and major debates within the origin-of-life scientific community.
- Aristotle and the Greek atomists' conceptions of the organism
- Alexander Oparin and J.B.S. Haldane's 1920s breakthrough papers
- Possible life on Mars?
- The search for extraterrestrial intelligence
- Recent discoveries of extrasolar planets
Iris Fry teaches at the Cohn Institute for the History of Philosophy of Science and Ideas, Tel Aviv University, and in the department of humanities and arts at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. Her book The Origin of Life: Mystery or Scientific Problem? was published in Israel in 1997.
|Introduction: The Origin of Life - a Subject with a Past and a Future||1|
|1||"From the Dust of the Ground"||9|
|2||Spontaneous Generation - Ups and Down||17|
|3||The Revival of the Belief in Spontaneous Generation||28|
|4||Louis Pasteur - The Deathblow to Spontaneous Generation||37|
|5||Between Pasteur and Darwin - a Dead End||54|
|6||The Oparin-Haldane Hypothesis||65|
|7||An Era of Optimism||79|
|8||Evolution in a Test Tube||89|
|9||Manfred Eigen's Model||100|
|10||Crisis - Real or Fictitious?||112|
|11||The RNA World - a Case for Renewed Optimism?||135|
|12||And Yet, Metabolism||150|
|13||The Emergence of Life - Neither by Change Nor by Design||179|
|14||"Life on Mars? So What?"||217|