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Christopher Wills and Jeffrey Bada

The Spark of Life

There is currently a great deal of discussion about how life arose from the mixture of chemicals present on the early Earth. Did it begin at hydrothermal vents, did it go via an 'RNA world' or is there some explanation which we haven't thought of yet. There are plenty of books which go into detail of the current state of this discussion and the experiments which are being performed. 'The Spark of Life' considers these issues, but takes a wider viewpoint than most books, taking the reader on a journey from the beginning of the earth to the development of the eukaryotic cell.

The first chapter looks at the history of ideas concerning the origin of life, and in particular of spontaneous generation. The book then examines the possible ways in which life might have arisen, and how scientists might hope to 'join up' what the fossil record tells us about early living cells with the results of experiments simulating the early conditions on the earth. The last three chapters look at the nature of living cells deep in the earths crust, how symbiosis might have affected evolution, and the possibilities for extraterrestrial life.

Some books on the subject suffer from the problem of using increasingly technical words as they progress. Mostly 'The Spark of Life' isn't difficult to follow, but I did find that in places the word length tended to increase, making it harder going.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews