Way of the Cell: Molecules, Organisms and the Order of Life

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What is life? Fifty years after physicist Erwin Schrodinger posed this question in his celebrated and inspiring book, the answer remains elusive. In The Way of the Cell, one of the world's most respected microbiologists draws on his wide knowledge of contemporary science to provide fresh insight into this intriguing and all-important question.
What is the relationship of living things to the inanimate realm of chemistry and physics? How do lifeless but special chemicals come together to form those intricate dynamic ensembles that we recognize as life? To shed light on these questions, Franklin Harold focuses here on microorganisms—in particular, the supremely well-researched bacterium E. coli—because the cell is the simplest level of organization that manifests all the features of the phenomenon of life. Harold shows that as simple as they appear when compared to ourselves, every cell displays a dynamic pattern in space and time, orders of magnitude richer than its elements. It integrates the writhings and couplings of billions of molecules into a coherent whole, draws matter and energy into itself, constructs and reproduces its own order, and persists in this manner for numberless generations while continuously adapting to a changing world.
A cell constitutes a unitary whole, a unit of life, and in this volume one of the leading authorities on the cell gives us a vivid picture of what goes on within this minute precinct. The result is a richly detailed, meticulously crafted account of what modern science can tell us about life as well as one scientist's personal attempt to wring understanding from the tide of knowledge.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The work is like a breath of fresh air in a scientific world otherwise obsessed with excessive reductionism."—BioEssays

"Witty and erudite, this scientific book hails as a literary achievement. Comprehensive and up to date, Franklin Harold traces the roots—historical, thermodynamic, and biochemical—of today's biological revolution."—Lynn Margulis, co-author (with Dorion Sagan) of both What is Life? and What is Sex?

"This book helps us understand why the search for answers to the riddle 'What is life?' is a noble quest."—Howard C. Berg, author of Random Walks in Biology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195163384
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/4/2003
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,038,571
  • Lexile: 1370L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Franklin M. Harold is Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Colorado State University. He lives in Edmonds, Washington.

For more information about the author, visit http://franklinharold.com

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Table of Contents

Preface ix
Acknowledgments xiii
1 Schrodinger's Riddle 1
2 The Quality of Life 9
3 Cells in Nature and in Theory 17
4 Molecular Logic 33
5 A (almost) Comprehensible Cell 63
6 It Takes a Cell To Make a Cell 99
7 Morphogenesis: Where Form and Function Meet 117
8 The Advance of the Microbes 159
9 By Descent with Modification 189
10 So What is Life? 217
11 Searching for the Beginning 235
Epilogue 253
Notes 259
References 270
Glossary 289
Index 299
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