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Life Everywhere: The Maverick Science of Astrobiology

by David Darling
New York: Basic Books, 2002. 224 pages.

In Life Everywhere, Darling offers a highly readable introduction to the burgeoning science of astrobiology, lucidly explaining its purview, goals, and methods, and offering his own predictions about what is in store. Darling, who has a DSc in Physics and a PhD in astronomy, relies not only on his own knowledge but also on extensive interviews with the movers and shakers in astrobiology. He also exposes the creationist roots of the "Rare Earth" hypothesis.

Astrobiology

by Monica Grady
Washington, DC: Smithsonian Books, 2001. 96 pages.

In her brief but lavishly illustrated introduction to astrobiology, Grady starts at the very beginning: the Big Bang. She then lucidly discusses the conditions necessary for the emergence of life, considering both the early earth and the possibility of life elsewhere in the solar system, as well as the search for life beyond the solar system.

The Emergence of Life on Earth: A Historical and Scientific Overview

by Iris Fry
New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2000. 344 pages.

Fry, a historian and philosopher of science, offers a unique scholarly perspective on the scientific issues involved in research on the origins of life. In addition to summarizing the history, all the way from Aristotle through Darwin and Pasteur to Oparin, Haldane, and Miller, she examines the contemporary issues and debates within the origin-of-life scientific research community.

Origin of Life

by A. I. Oparin
New York: Dover Publications, 2003. 304 pages.

Inspired by Darwin and Mendeleev, Aleksandr Ivanovich Oparin (1894–1980) was one of the first scientists to propose that the origin of life on earth was preceded by a period of nonbiological molecular evolution.

The Spark of Life: Darwin and the Primeval Soup

by Christopher Wills and Jeffrey Bada
Cambridge, MA: Basic Books, 2001. 320 pages.

"Life as we know it is assertive, demanding, and unstoppable," Wills and Bada write in The Spark of Life. But how did it get started? The authors defend the "primeval soup" model against its competitors, extending it with suggestions of their own. The reviewer for Nature writes, "They entertain by not only giving a lively description of the 'spark of life', but also by conveying the sparkle of its investigators and the nature of the scientific process.

The Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution

by Stuart A. Kauffman
New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. 734 pages.

Can life self-organize? Kauffman answers yes in his presentation of a non-Darwinian explanation for the origin of life and early molecular systems. An answer to "intelligent design theory"! "An integrative book that will become a landmark and a classic as we grope towards a more comprehensive and satisfying theory of evolution", according to Stephen Jay Gould.

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