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Radu Popa
Searching for the Definition and Origin of Life
Between Necessity and Probability. Advances in Astrobiology and Biogeophysics

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This study investigates the major theories of the origins of life in the light of modern research with the aim of distinguishing between the necessary and the optional and between deterministic and random influences in the emergence of what we call ‘life.’

Life is treated as a cosmic phenomenon whose emergence and driving force should be viewed independently from its Earth-bound natural history. The author synthesizes all the fundamental life-related developments in a comprehensive scenario, and makes the argument that understanding life in its broadest context requires a material-independent perspective that identifies its essential fingerprints.

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Specialist and nonspecialist researchers

Inhalt
  • Introduction
  • The Early History of Bioenergy
    • Energy-Related Phase Transitions Toward Life
      • Catalysis
      • Reflexive Activity
      • Energy Transduction
    • Energy Control Mechanisms
    • Quantitative Consequences of Energy Control Mechanisms
    • Distribution of Energy Input
  • The Origin of Cell Boundaries and Metabolism
    • The Make-up of Life’s Boundaries
    • The Early Evolution of Cellular Boundaries
    • Outcomes of an Early Boundary
    • Systems Without Defined Boundaries
    • Systems with Non-Specialized Boundaries
    • Self-Assembly of Specialized Boundaries
    • Boundary-Derived Properties of Life
    • Coupling of Spatial Seclusion with a Reflexive Activity
    • The Origin of Metabolism
  • The Origin of Early Specificity. The Order, Complexity and Diversity of Life
    • Order
    • Complexity
    • Diversity
    • Specificity
    • Specificity of Polymer-Based Life
    • The Origin of Specificity
    • Transition from External to Internal Control
    • Major Events in the Early History of Specificity
    • The Origin of Feedback Mechanisms as a Source of Internal Stability
    • The Origin of Forward Regulation
    • Consequences of Internal Regulation
    • Forced Oscillations and Periodic Clocks
    • Specificity-Related Phase Transitions Toward Life
    • Specificity-Related Minimal Requirements of Life
  • The Origin of Handedness
    • Chirality and Life
    • Natural Sources of Chirality
    • Evolutionary Steps Toward Biological Chirality
    • Handedness-Related Steps Toward Life
  • The Early History of Bio-Information
    • Early Sources of Bio-Information
    • Contextual vs. Nominative Information and Explicit vs. Cryptic Information
    • Postulates of the Early Evolution of Bio-Information
      • The Contextual Information Era
      • The Mineral-to-Organic Era
      • The Organic-to-Organic Era
      • The Emergence of Encryption
      • The Rise of the DNA World
    • Information-Related Fundamental Phase Transitions Toward Life
    • Minimal Requirements for the Emergence of Bio-Information
  • The Purpose-Like Nature of Life
  • Assembling the Early Puzzle of Life
    • The First Step Toward Life: Coupling Catalysis with Reflexive Activity
    • Self-Assembly
    • Seclusion Within Specialized Boundaries and the Origin of Metabolism
    • Probabilistic Jumps Toward Catalytic Specificity
    • Feedback Regulation
    • Internalization of Minimal Specificity
    • Control over Chirality
    • Inheritable Variability
    • Replication
    • The Last Step Toward Life: The Emergence of Encryption
    • The Non-Life-to-Life Transition
    • Cosmochemical and Geochemical Requirements for the Origin of Life
    • Major Trends During the Early History of Life
    • Differences Between Early Life and Modern Life
    • Early Life and Artificial Life
    • The Definition of Life
  • The Material-Independent Signatures of Life. Forensic Tools of Astrobiology
    • Rules of Thumb in Astrobiology
    • The Main Questions in Astrobiology
      • How Many Parameters are Required to Identify Life?
      • False Premises and Misguided Fingerprints in Astrobiology
    • The Material-Independent Signatures of Life
  • Appendix A Models and Theories of Life
    • Major Steps Toward Life
    • The (M,R)-System Model
    • The Two-Polymerase System
    • The Hypercycle Model
    • The Autocatalytic Network Model
    • The Chemoton Model
    • Pargellis’s Model of Artificial Life
    • The Autopoietic Model
    • The Algorithmic Chemistry Model
    • Chemical Reaction Automata
  • Appendix B Chronology of Definitions and Interpretations of Life
  • Appendix C Dictionary
  • Appendix D Abbreviations
  • References


Springer Berlin, 2004, 252 S.
101,60 Euro
Hardcover, 58 illus.
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