Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Preface

HAROLD F. BLUM

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pp. vii-xi

I FIRST began to think about possible relationships between the second law of thermodynamics and organic evolution during the summer of 1933 while a guest of the laboratory of the Collfege de France, at Concarneau in Brittany. The previous spring I had discussed Henderson's Fitness of the Environment with my class in General Physiology at the University of California...

Contents

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p. xiii

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I. Perspectives

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pp. 3-7

THE idea of evolution from a past primitive state to a present more complex one brings unity to biology, explaining the relationships among living organisms and the recurrent patterns one finds throughout the living world whether it be explored with binocular, test-tube, microscope, or Geiger-Miiller counter. The concept is not unique to biology; the astronomer regards...

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II. The Chronology of Evolution

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pp. 8-13

THE dating of evolutionary events is based on the reasonable postulate that the existing sedimentary rocks of the earth's surface were formed in layers, one after the other. They were formed in different ways, however, and their relationships have been disturbed by various changes, some catastrophic, some gradual. Hence, their relative positions often fail directly to reveal...

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III. The Energetics and Kinetics of Chemical Reaction

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pp. 14-33

Energy appears in various forms: heat, light, kinetic energy, mechanical work, chemical energy, and so forth. Energy can change its form, but not its quantity—this is a statement of the first law of thermodynamics, which until quite recently could be accepted without qualification. We know, now, that matter is another form of energy, but that does not alter this fundamental...

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IV. The Origin and Early Evolution of the Earth

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pp. 34-43

HYPOTHESES regarding the manner of the earth's origin have come and gone, each enjoying its vogue for a time, only to be replaced by another which more nearly fitted the available evidence. At present we find ourselves in a period of radical change in concepts. The collision hypothesis, which not many years ago was almost accepted dogma, has succumbed to inherent weakness...

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V. Later History of the Earth

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pp. 44-59

IT IS generally agreed that the present earth has a core of high density, with a radius roughly one-half that of the planet itself. This core is covered by a mantle of lighter materials which displays several discontinuities. Only the outermost veneer of land surface, water, ice, and atmosphere make up the present environment of living organisms, and it is here that the interest of students of organic evolution is focused. But to gain a reasonably...

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VI. The Fitness of the Environment

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pp. 60-86

IN 1913 there appeared a small volume entitled The Fitness of the Environment written by Lawrence J. Henderson, which biologists and others received with varied response. Many found in this book a new and stimulating idea; others saw only platitudes. Some were frankly puzzled by it, and it has even been suggested that it was written with tongue in cheek. The opening words...

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VII. The Energetics and Kinetics of Living Systems

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pp. 87-119

LIKE any other machine, the living system must have a supply of energy for its operation. If it does external work as, for example, in bodily movement or in the expulsion of waste products, free energy must be expended. Even more fundamental is the need for energy for growth and maintenance. How the contemporary organism obtains and utilizes energy is a fascinating...

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VIII. Structure and Its Reproduction

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pp. 120-136

STRUCTURE and reproduction are inseparable characteristics of living organisms; the understanding of one is contingent upon understanding the other. Essentially, the structure of any cell is a characteristic arrangement of specific kinds of molecules in interrelated patterns. Reproduction involves the duplication of the molecules themselves, and in addition the duplication of...

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IX. Stability and Variability

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pp. 137-154

IF one wishes to push his criteria of likeness far enough, he may say that no two living organisms are ever exactly alike. Probably no offspring is ever just like its parent, although in general the resemblance to parents is greater than to the other members of the species; and the resemblance between members of a species is greater than that between the members of two distinct species. Thus, among living organisms, while difference is the rule...

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X. The Origin of Life

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pp. 155-176

CERTAIN fundamental properties of modern living systems have been discussed in the last few chapters. How and when did such systems appear on the earth? Were the first of them endowed with all those properties that now seem essential to living organisms? Could these properties have appeared at different times, and what must have been their order of appearance?...

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XI. Irreversibility and Direction in Evolution

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pp. 177-192

ONE thinks of evolution as a series of events in time; of steps that have not been retraced, unless perhaps during short intervals and in a restricted sense only. The idea of the irreversibility of evolution is often spoken of as Dollo's law, after the Belgian paleontologist who seems to have been the first to point out the evidence of this in the fossil record.1 But actually, the nonrecurrence of experienced events may be one of the oldest notions...

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XII. Some Implications

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pp. 193-203

WE HAVE traveled a considerable distance along a path that may at times have seemed quite haphazard. Parts of the terrain we have passed through have been explored in some detail, but others have hardly been touched. For our purpose has not been to exhaust our subject—which seems inexhaustible—but to gain insight and orientation regarding the retracing of the course...

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XIII. Order, Negentropy, and Evolution

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pp. 204-224

To study evolution in detail we must, perforce, regard it as a distinct entity, taking it out of the context of a great deal of the world in which it occurs. This is intuitive, methodologically necessary, and safe enough within limited scope. But when we try to extend our view to include broader relationships, or to think more rigorously in terms of thermodynamics and probability,...

Bibliography

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pp. 225-232

Index

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pp. 233-236