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A brief history of creation : science and the search for the origin of life

by Mesler, Bill (Author), Cleaves, H. James (Author)

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An essential history of Western scientific studies into the origins of life examines historical discoveries in the contexts of philosophical debates, political change, and evolving understandings about the complexities of biology. Full description


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Table of Contents:
  • 1. By the action of your sun. Ancients ask where life comes from ; Anaximander explains the natural world ; Aristotle writes of "spontaneous generation"
  • 2. Provando e riprovando. Francesco Redi and the scientific method ; Van Helmont's recipe for mice ; "All life comes from an egg"
  • 3. The eye of a gnat. The Enlightenment transforms science ; Hooke pens Micrographia ; Antonie van Leeuwenhoek discovers the microscopic world
  • 4. The laboratory of the atheists. Voltaire subscribes to intelligent design ; Atheists seize upon the origin of life ; Buffon observes "reproduction"
  • 5. A vital force. Andrew Crosse's "extraordinary experiment" ; Vitalism and "imponderable fluids" ; Vestiges of the natural history of creation captivates Britain
  • 6. Breathed by the creator into a few forms or one. The Beagle sets sail for the Gala╠üpagos ; The Origin of species wins converts ; Charles Darwin imagines a "warm little pond"
  • 7. Pleasant, though they be deceitful dreams. Pasteur dispels the notion of a "useless God" ; Thomas Huxley grooms a new generation ; The germ theory of disease versus spontaneous generation
  • 8. No vestige of a beginning. The earth grows ever older ; J.B.S. Haldane imagines a "half-living" thing ; Alexander Oparin reimagines an ancient planet
  • 9. A laboratory earth. Stanley Miller creates the precursors for life ; Scientists flock to exobiology ; NASA enters the origin-of-life game
  • 10. The nucleic acid monopoly. Apollo 11 looks for clues on the moon ; Sidney Fox and his proteinoid microspheres ; Crick and Watson discover "the secret of life"
  • 11. Life everywhere. An enigmatic Martian rock ; Panspermia recisited ; Life in meteorites?
  • 12. One primordial form. The last universal common ancestor ; The Woesian revolution ; Scientists look to undersea vents
  • 13. A cell is born. The birth of the RNA world ; Genetic engineering opens doors ; A new gensis?
  • Epilogue
  • Appendix: Recipes for life.