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Fitness of the Cosmos for Life
Biochemistry and Fine-Tuning

£98.00

Part of Cambridge Astrobiology

George M. Whitesides, Everett Mendelsohn, Owen Gingerich, John F. Haught, Edward T. Oakes, Ernan McMullin, Paul C. W. Davies, Mario Livio, John D. Barrow, Julian Chela-Flores, Christian de Duve, Simon Conway Morris, Jayanth R. Banavar, Amos Maritan, Michael J. Denton, Stephen J. Freeland, Jeffrey P. Schloss, Albert Eschenmoser, William Klemperer, Eric Smith, Harold J. Morowitz, Guy Ourisson, Shuguang Zhang, R. J. P. Williams, J. J. R. Fraústo da Silva
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  • Date Published: December 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521871020

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  • This highly interdisciplinary 2007 book highlights many of the ways in which chemistry plays a crucial role in making life an evolutionary possibility in the universe. Cosmologists and particle physicists have often explored how the observed laws and constants of nature lie within a narrow range that allows complexity and life to evolve and adapt. Here, these anthropic considerations are diversified in a host of new ways to identify the most sensitive features of biochemistry and astrobiology. Celebrating the classic 1913 work of Lawrence J. Henderson, The Fitness of the Environment for Life, this book looks at the delicate balance between chemistry and the ambient conditions in the universe that permit complex chemical networks and structures to exist. It will appeal to a broad range of scientists, academics, and others interested in the origin and existence of life in our universe.

    • This unique, thought-provoking and broad-ranging volume questions the philosophy of life and our place in the universe
    • Brings together many famous authors from a wide range of relevant disciplines, bridging biology, biochemistry, cosmology and even theology
    • No other book addresses the role of biochemical pathways in the context of cosmological 'fine-tuning'
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    Reviews & endorsements

    Review of the hardback: '… comprehensive … well referenced, and adequately indexed. … I would … recommend it to readers who are neither scientists, nor academics, nor theologians.' The Observatory

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2007
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521871020
    • length: 526 pages
    • dimensions: 244 x 170 x 29 mm
    • weight: 1.17kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Foreword: The improbability of life George M. Whitesides
    Part I. The Fitness of 'Fitness' - Henderson in Context:
    1. Locating 'fitness' and Lawrence J. Henderson Everett Mendelsohn
    2. Revisiting The Fitness of the Environment Owen Gingerich
    3. Is fine-tuning remarkable? John F. Haught
    4. Complexity in context: the metaphysical implications of evolutionary theory Edward T. Oakes
    5. Tuning fine-tuning Ernan Mcmullin
    Part II. The Fitness of the Cosmic Environment:
    6. Fitness and the cosmic environment Paul C. W. Davies
    7. The interconnections between cosmology and life Mario Livio
    8. Chemistry and sensitivity John D. Barrow
    9. Fitness of the cosmos for the origin and evolution of life: from biochemical fine-tuning to the Anthropic Principle Julian Chela-Flores
    Part III. The Fitness of the Terrestrial Environment:
    10. How biofriendly is the universe? Christian de Duve
    11. Tuning into the frequencies of life: a roar of static or a precise signal? Simon Conway Morris
    12. Life on earth: the role of proteins Jayanth R. Banavar and Amos Maritan
    13. Protein-based life as an emergent property of matter: the nature and biological fitness of the protein folds Michael J. Denton
    14. Could an intelligent alien predict earth's biochemistry? Stephen J. Freeland
    15. Would Venus evolve on Mars? Bioenergetic constraints, allometric trends, and the evolution of life-history invariants Jeffrey P. Schloss
    Part IV. The Fitness of the Chemical Environment:
    16. Creating a perspective for comparing Albert Eschenmoser
    17. Fine-tuning and interstellar chemistry William Klemperer
    18. Framing the question of fine-tuning for intermediary metabolism Eric Smith and Harold J. Morowitz
    19. Coarse-tuning the origin of life? Guy Ourisson
    20. Plausible lipid-like peptides: prebiotic molecular self-assembly in water Shuguang Zhang
    21. Evolution revisited by inorganic chemists R. J. P. Williams and J. J. R. Fraústo da Silva
    Index.

  • Editors

    John D. Barrow, University of Cambridge

    Simon Conway Morris, University of Cambridge

    Stephen J. Freeland, University of Maryland, Baltimore

    Charles L. Harper, Jr, John Templeton Foundation

    Contributors

    George M. Whitesides, Everett Mendelsohn, Owen Gingerich, John F. Haught, Edward T. Oakes, Ernan McMullin, Paul C. W. Davies, Mario Livio, John D. Barrow, Julian Chela-Flores, Christian de Duve, Simon Conway Morris, Jayanth R. Banavar, Amos Maritan, Michael J. Denton, Stephen J. Freeland, Jeffrey P. Schloss, Albert Eschenmoser, William Klemperer, Eric Smith, Harold J. Morowitz, Guy Ourisson, Shuguang Zhang, R. J. P. Williams, J. J. R. Fraústo da Silva

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