Vital Dust: Life as a Cosmic Imperative

Vital Dust: Life as a Cosmic Imperative

by Christian De Duve, Christian De Duve
     
 

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"Is the emergence of life on Earth the result of a single chance event or combination of lucky accidents, or is it the outcome of biochemical forces woven into the fabric of the universe? And if inevit"See more details below

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"Is the emergence of life on Earth the result of a single chance event or combination of lucky accidents, or is it the outcome of biochemical forces woven into the fabric of the universe? And if inevit"

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a work of majestic sweep and bold speculation, Nobel Prize-winning biochemist de Duve presents an awesome panorama of life on Earth, from the first biomolecules to the emergence of the human mind and our species' future. Professor emeritus at Manhattan's Rockefeller University, de Duve rejects the view that life arose through a series of accidents, nor does he invoke God, goal-directed causes or vitalism, which regards living beings as matter animated by vital spirit. Instead, in a remarkable synthesis of biochemistry, paleontology, evolutionary biology, genetics and ecology, he argues for a meaningful universe in which life and mind emerged, inevitably and deterministically, because of prevailing conditions. Starting with a single-celled organism, resembling modern bacteria, which appeared 3.8 billion years ago and gave rise to all forms of life on earth today, de Duve delineates seven successive ages corresponding to increasing levels of complexity. He predicts that our species may evolve into a ``human hive'' or planetary superorganism, a society in which individuals would abandon some of their freedom for the benefit of all; alternately, if Homo sapiens disappears, he envisages our replacement by another intelligent species. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Around four billion years ago, natural chemical reactions led to the formation of organic molecules in the Earth's waters. From these, nucleic acids emerged, then cells, then multicellular organisms, and, ultimately, the astonishing biodiversity on Earth today. De Duve, a cell biologist and Nobel laureate, invokes a grand scope in this exposition of the origin and future of life. He examines seven successive life "ages," beginning with the "Age of Chemistry," when biomolecules first emerged, and ending with "The Age of the Unknown," our possible biological futures. The first four parts, which report on topics from the author's field of expertise and include information on his original theories, have a rather high technical content. The pace and readability pick up in later chapters, in which de Duve discusses higher plant and animal evolution. For general readers with no background on the subject, there are more accessible books on the origin of life on Earth (e.g., A.G. Cairns-Smith's Seven Clues to the Origin of Life, Cambridge Univ. Pr., 1990), but this ambitious, authoritative work can be highly recommended for nonspecialist readers who possess basic science literacy.-Gregg Sapp, Univ. of Miami Lib.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465090457
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
12/28/1995
Pages:
302
Product dimensions:
5.96(w) x 8.84(h) x 0.98(d)
Lexile:
1400L (what's this?)

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