Uniting the conceptual foundations of the physical sciences and biology, this groundbreaking multidisciplinary book explores the origin of life as a planetary process. Combining geology, geochemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, evolution and statistical physics to create an inclusive picture of the living state, the authors develop the argument that the emergence of life was a necessary cascade of non-equilibrium phase transitions that opened new channels for chemical energy flow on Earth. This full colour and logically structured book introduces the main areas of significance and provides a well-ordered and accessible introduction to multiple literatures outside the confines of disciplinary specializations, as well as including an extensive bibliography to provide context and further reading. For researchers, professionals entering the field or specialists looking for a coherent overview, this text brings together diverse perspectives to form a unified picture of the origin of life and the ongoing organization of the biosphere.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements; Preface; 1. The planetary scope of biogenesis; 2. Life on Earth today; 3. The geochemical context for the biosphere; 4. The architecture of metabolism; 5. Higher-level structures; 6. Emergence of the biosphere; 7. The phase transition paradigm for emergence; 8. The nature of the living state; Epilogue. References; Index.