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Life S Engines

Author: Paul G. Falkowski
Publisher:
ISBN: 9780691173351
Size: 44.54 MB
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For almost four billion years, microbes had the primordial oceans all to themselves. The stewards of Earth, these organisms transformed the chemistry of our planet to make it habitable for plants, animals, and us. "Life's Engines" takes readers deep into the microscopic world to explore how these marvelous creatures made life on Earth possible--and how human life today would cease to exist without them. Paul Falkowski looks "under the hood" of microbes to find the engines of life, the actual working parts that do the biochemical heavy lifting for every living organism on Earth. With insight and humor, he explains how these miniature engines are built--and how they have been appropriated by and assembled like Lego sets within every creature that walks, swims, or flies. Falkowski shows how evolution works to maintain this core machinery of life, and how we and other animals are veritable conglomerations of microbes. A vibrantly entertaining book about the microbes that support our very existence, " Life's Engines" will inspire wonder about these elegantly complex nanomachines that have driven life since its origin. It also issues a timely warning about the dangers of tinkering with that machinery to make it more "efficient" at meeting the ever-growing demands of humans in the coming century.

How To Find A Habitable Planet

Author: James Kasting
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 0691138052
Size: 62.64 MB
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Ever since Carl Sagan first predicted that extraterrestrial civilizations must number in the millions, the search for life on other planets has gripped our imagination. Is Earth so rare that advanced life forms like us--or even the simplest biological organisms--are unique to the universe? How to Find a Habitable Planet describes how scientists are testing Sagan's prediction, and demonstrates why Earth may not be so rare after all. James Kasting has worked closely with NASA in its mission to detect habitable worlds outside our solar system, and in this book he introduces readers to the advanced methodologies being used in this extraordinary quest. He addresses the compelling questions that planetary scientists grapple with today: What exactly makes a planet habitable? What are the signatures of life astronomers should look for when they scan the heavens for habitable worlds? In providing answers, Kasting explains why Earth has remained habitable despite a substantial rise in solar luminosity over time, and why our neighbors, Venus and Mars, haven't. If other Earth-sized planets endowed with enough water and carbon are out there, he argues, chances are good that some of those planets sustain life. Kasting describes the efforts under way to find them, and predicts that future discoveries will profoundly alter our view of the universe and our place in it. This book is a must-read for anyone who has ever dreamed of finding other planets like ours--and perhaps even life like ours--in the cosmos.

Microbes And Evolution

Author: Roberto Kolter
Publisher: Amer Society for Microbiology
ISBN: 9781555815400
Size: 64.49 MB
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Explore the fundamental role of microbes in the natural history of our planet with 40 first-person essays written by microbiologists with a passion for evolutionary biology, whose thinking and career paths in science were influenced by Darwin's seminal work On the Origin of Species.

Deep Life

Author: Tullis C. Onstott
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 1400884241
Size: 72.68 MB
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Deep Life takes readers to uncharted regions deep beneath Earth's crust in search of life in extreme environments and reveals how astonishing new discoveries by geomicrobiologists are helping the quest to find life in the solar system. Tullis Onstott, named one of the 100 most influential people in America by Time magazine, provides an insider’s look at the pioneering fieldwork that is shining vital new light on Earth’s hidden biology—a thriving subterranean biosphere that scientists once thought to be impossible. Come along on epic descents two miles underground into South African gold mines to experience the challenges that Onstott and his team had to overcome. Join them in their search for microbes in the ancient seabed below the desert floor in the American Southwest, and travel deep beneath the frozen wastelands of the Arctic tundra to discover life as it could exist on Mars. Blending cutting-edge science with thrilling scientific adventure, Deep Life features rare and unusual encounters with exotic life forms, including a bacterium living off radiation and a hermaphroditic troglodytic worm that has changed our understanding of how complex subsurface life can really be. This unforgettable book takes you to the absolute limits of life—the biotic fringe—where today’s scientists hope to discover the very origins of life itself.

Microbes From Hell

Author: Patrick Forterre
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022626582X
Size: 12.51 MB
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Patrick Forterre is a leading expert on archaea and thermophiles, and in Microbes from Hell (originally published as Microbes de l enfer by Belin, 2007) he offers an engaging, colorful overview of Archaea: single-celled microorganisms that were initially found in extreme habitats such as Yellowstone s volcanic hot springs. He starts with a history of Archaea s discovery and the conceptual revolution it sparked in our understanding of life s evolution; then, in the second chapter, he provides a personal account of his own search for thermophiles. In chapter three, Mr. Forterre discusses the challenges of living in high-temperature environments along with the ways in which thermophiles have adapted to them. In chapters four and five, he examines their relationships to other organisms as well as their role in the early evolution of life. Last, he presents the latest discoveries in thermophile research."

Life On A Young Planet

Author: Andrew H. Knoll
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9780691120294
Size: 61.51 MB
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Knoll explores the deep history of life from its origins on a young planet to the incredible Cambrian explosion, with the very latest discoveries in paleontology integrated with emerging insights from molecular biology and earth system science. 100 illustrations.

Oxygen

Author: Donald E. Canfield
Publisher:
ISBN: 9780691168364
Size: 17.99 MB
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The air we breathe is twenty-one percent oxygen, an amount higher than on any other known world. While we may take our air for granted, Earth was not always an oxygenated planet. How did it become this way? This book is the most current account of the history of atmospheric oxygen on Earth.

A New History Of Life

Author: Peter Ward
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
ISBN: 1608199088
Size: 43.67 MB
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Charles Darwin's theories, first published more than 150 years ago, form the backbone of how we understand the history of the Earth. In reality, the currently accepted history of life on Earth is so flawed, so out of date, that it's past time we need a 'New History of Life.' In their latest book, Joe Kirschvink and Peter Ward will show that many of our most cherished beliefs about the evolution of life are wrong. Gathering and analyzing years of discoveries and research not yet widely known to the public, A New History of Life proposes a different origin of species than the one Darwin proposed, one which includes eight-foot-long centipedes, a frozen "snowball Earth†?, and the seeds for life originating on Mars. Drawing on their years of experience in paleontology, biology, chemistry, and astrobiology, experts Ward and Kirschvink paint a picture of the origins life on Earth that are at once too fabulous to imagine and too familiar to dismiss--and looking forward, A New History of Life brilliantly assembles insights from some of the latest scientific research to understand how life on Earth can and might evolve far into the future.

Life S Ratchet

Author: Peter M. Hoffmann
Publisher: Hachette UK
ISBN: 0465033369
Size: 65.19 MB
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The cells in our bodies consist of molecules, made up of the same carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms found in air and rocks. But molecules, such as water and sugar, are not alive. So how do our cells—assemblies of otherwise “dead” molecules—come to life, and together constitute a living being? In Life’s Ratchet, physicist Peter M. Hoffmann locates the answer to this age-old question at the nanoscale. The complex molecules of our cells can rightfully be called “molecular machines,” or “nanobots”; these machines, unlike any other, work autonomously to create order out of chaos. Tiny electrical motors turn electrical voltage into motion, tiny factories custom-build other molecular machines, and mechanical machines twist, untwist, separate and package strands of DNA. The cell is like a city—an unfathomable, complex collection of molecular worker bees working together to create something greater than themselves. Life, Hoffman argues, emerges from the random motions of atoms filtered through the sophisticated structures of our evolved machinery. We are essentially giant assemblies of interacting nanoscale machines; machines more amazing than can be found in any science fiction novel. Incredibly, the molecular machines in our cells function without a mysterious “life force,” nor do they violate any natural laws. Scientists can now prove that life is not supernatural, and that it can be fully understood in the context of science. Part history, part cutting-edge science, part philosophy, Life’s Ratchet takes us from ancient Greece to the laboratories of modern nanotechnology to tell the story of our quest for the machinery of life.

The Origin And Nature Of Life On Earth

Author: Eric Smith
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 1107121884
Size: 50.51 MB
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Uniting the foundations of physics and biology, this groundbreaking multidisciplinary and integrative book explores life as a planetary process.