The Beginnings of Biological Evolution
Publication Year: 2002
Published by: University of California Press
Download PDF (82.7 KB)
Title Page, Copyright
Download PDF (67.6 KB)
Download PDF (54.3 KB)
Introduction: The What, When, and How of Life’s Beginnings
Download PDF (53.1 KB)
In this news-conscious age, everyone knows the journalist’s litany ofprime questions: who, what, when, where, why, how. About the originof life, scientists’ questions are similar, but more restricted. Setting asidethe who (no humans were on hand to observe the event), the where(unanswerable except in the broadest terms—on Earth, in water, prob-...
1. Historical Understanding of Life’s Beginnings
Download PDF (201.4 KB)
There are three major singularities in the world—the observable uni-verse, life on Earth, and human beings. For the most part, we agree onreached no consensus on what life is. It is easier to recognize life, inall its common forms, than it is to define it. In 1976, during NASA’sViking Project to Mars, the late Carl Sagan and I were at the Jet...
2. From Big Bang to Primordial Planet: Setting the Stage for the Origin of Life
Download PDF (1.0 MB)
According to modern theory, life arose on the primitive Earth by aprocess of prebiotic chemical evolution. This process began with syn-theses of organic chemical precursors of proteins, nucleic acids, andemergence of life forms capable of self-replication—forms that couldundergo Darwinian evolution through mutation and natural selection....
3. Formation of the Building Blocks of Life
Download PDF (1.2 MB)
Along with his books, notes, letters, and papers, Charles Robert Darwinbequeathed two recipes to succeeding generations. The first, written inAdd salt to the water and when boiling hot, stir in the rice. Keep itboiling for twelve minutes by the watch, then pour off the water and setthe pot on live coals during ten minutes—the rice is then fit for the table....
4. From Building Blocks to the Polymers of Life
Download PDF (976.8 KB)
Nucleic acids and proteins play a central role in life on Earth today.These polymeric biochemicals, composed, respectively, of nucleotides(figure 4.1a) and amino acids (figure 4.2a), provide the catalysis, thegenetics, and some of the structure of all living systems. The genetic in-formation in the nucleic acid DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is transcribed...
5. The Origin of Biological Information
Download PDF (678.2 KB)
Organic chemists should have invented the computer scientists’ motto,“Garbage in, garbage out.” Proceeding step by step, purifying the prod-uct of one step before using it in the next: this is the orthodox ap-proach to organic synthesis. Under carefully controlled conditions, itis just possible to constrain the chemistry of a pure input compound...
6. When Did Life Begin?
Download PDF (1.1 MB)
We have a fairly clear picture of how life began. Sketched in broadstrokes, a six-part scenario is plausible: (1) the genesis in distant starsof the chemical elements crucial to life; (2) the formation of the SolarSystem and accretion of planet Earth; (3) the nonbiologic buildup inEarth’s oceans of small, simple, organic monomers; (4) the linkage of...
List of Contributors
Download PDF (51.8 KB)
Download PDF (121.0 KB)
Download PDF (322.7 KB)
Download PDF (17.7 KB)
Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2002