About Life: Concepts in Modern Biology / Edition 1

About Life: Concepts in Modern Biology / Edition 1

Pub. Date:
Springer Netherlands
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About Life: Concepts in Modern Biology / Edition 1

This book uses modern biological knowledge to tackle the question: "What distinguishes living organisms from the non-living world?" In the first few chapters, the authors draw on recent advances in cell and molecular biology to develop an account of the "living state" that applies to all organisms, but only to organisms. Subsequent chapters use this account to explore questions about evolution, the origin of life and the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Towards the end of the book the authors consider human evolution, intelligence and the extent to which our species can be regarded as biologically unique. About Life is written as far as possible in non-technical language; all scientific terms are explained straightforwardly when they are introduced. It is aimed at the general, non-specialist reader, but the novel approach that it takes to general issues in biology will also interest students of the life sciences.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402054174
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
Publication date: 01/28/2007
Edition description: 2007
Pages: 244
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.02(d)

Table of Contents

Preface     vii
Introduction     1
Ingredients of the simplest cells: (Prokaryotes and the sizes of their contents)     7
Bigger cells: (Eukaryotic cells and their contents)     17
Hives of industry: (A survey of intermediary metabolism)     29
Delights of transport: (How the cell's contents are moved around)     39
As if standing still: (Cellular homeostasis and regulatory processes)     49
Internal state and gene expression: (Transcription and its control)     57
Sustaining and changing the internal state: (The interrelationship between gene expression and the cell's current composition and functional state)     67
Responding to the environment: (Signal processing, gene expression and internal state)     79
The living state: (A characterization of 'life')     91
Stability and change in DNA: (How genes can be altered)     105
The spice of life: (Diversity, natural selection and symbiosis)     117
Curriculum vitae: (An outline history of life on Earth)     131
The origin of life: (Some major ideas and unanswered questions)     147
Other worlds: (The possibility of extraterrestrial life)     163
Intelligent behaviour and brains: (The biological meaning of "intelligence")     179
Human evolution: (Human intelligence andthe question of human uniqueness)     195
Cells, brains and computers: towards a characterisation of mind     209
Glossary and pronunciation guide     223
Further reading     231
Index     237

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