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The Genesis Quest

The Geniuses and Eccentrics on a Journey to Uncover the Origin of Life on Earth

Michael Marshall

The Genesis Quest

Michael Marshall

368 pages | 7 halftones, 1 table | 6 x 9 | © 2020
Cloth $26.00 ISBN: 9780226715230 Will Publish October 2020 USA DEPEND PHILLIPPINES
E-book $26.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226715377 Will Publish October 2020 USA DEPEND PHILLIPPINES
How did life begin? Why are we here? These are some of the most profound questions we can ask.
 
For almost a century, a small band of eccentric scientists has struggled to answer these questions and explain one of the greatest mysteries of all: how and why life began on Earth. There are many different proposals, and each idea has attracted passionate believers who promote it with an almost religious fervor, as well as detractors who reject it with equal passion.
 
But the quest to unravel life’s genesis is not just a story of big ideas. It is also a compelling human story, rich in personalities, conflicts, and surprising twists and turns. Along the way the journey takes in some of the greatest discoveries in modern biology, from evolution and cells to DNA and life’s family tree. It is also a search whose end may finally be in sight.
 
In The Genesis Quest, Michael Marshall shows how the quest to understand life’s beginning is also a journey to discover the true nature of life, and by extension our place in the universe.
Contents
Introduction

PART ONE Primordial Science
1. The Biggest Question
2. A Soviet Free Thinker
3. Creation in a Test Tube

PART TWO Strange Objects
4. The DNA Revolution
5. Crystal Clear
6. The Schism

PART THREE Scattered, Divided, Leaderless
17. The Other Long Molecule
18. Rise of the Replicators
19. The Blobs
10. The Need for Power
11. Born in the Depths

PART FOUR Reunification
12. Mirrors
13. Return of the Blobs
14. Just Messy Enough

Epilogue: The Meaning of Life

Acknowledgements
Bibliography
Notes
Index
 
Review Quotes
Philip Ball, author of "How to Grow a Human: Adventures in How We Are Made and Who We Are"
“Marshall has rounded up all the past and current thinking about this profound and puzzling question—how did life begin?—into a neat, enthralling, and highly digestible package. He doesn’t pretend we can answer the question, but does justice to all the key proposals so far. And if anything, his survey of potential solutions makes the appearance of life on Earth seem all the more astonishing as we examine the issue ever more closely.”
Oren Harman, author of "Evolutions: Fifteen Myths That Explain Our World"
“Prepare yourself for a dazzling intellectual journey: the science is fascinating, the cast of characters all-too-human, and the philosophical insights deep. Written in clear and entertaining prose, like a Sherlock Holmes story, this is the best book I know for general readers about the quest to solve one of our most enduring mysteries: how and where, in a seemingly purposeless universe, life began on planet earth.”
Luis A. Campos, author of "Radium and the Secret of Life"
The Genesis Quest recounts remarkable episodes in the history of attempts to scientifically understand the origin of life. Combining exceptionally clear expositions of what is scientifically at stake, distinctive humor, and a roving eye for the telling anecdote, this is anything but a tedious scientific genealogy. Marshall has a flair and talent for explaining each individual experiment and its intellectual context. The Genesis Quest offers a well-done romp through some fascinating and complicated terrain.”
Michael Marshall | from the introduction
“The story of the quest to understand genesis is a universal one, in which everyone can find pleasure and fascination. By asking how life came to be, we are implicitly asking why we are here, whether life exists on other planets, and what it means to be alive. This book is the story of a group of fragile, flawed humans who chose to wrestle with these questions. By exploring the origin of life, these people have caught a glimpse of the infinite.”
The Biologist
"This book explores multiple theories about the origin of life and the story of how these ideas have progressed over the last century. The book's distinctive style comes from well-researched analysis of the behaviour and lifestyles of the various scientists who have contributed to this fascinating and uniquely difficult question...This book is an extremely stimulating read and I recommend it most strongly to scientists and laymen alike."
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