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About this item
Number of Pages: 384
Publisher: Basic Books
Book theme: Evolution
Author: Christian R De Duve & Christian De Duve
Street Date: January 1, 1996
Item Number (DPCI): 247-53-1874
The author guides us on a wondrous journey through the past four billion years, from the formation of the first biomolecules to the complexities of the human mind, from microscopic chains of amino acids and nucleotides to cataclysmic events in distant galaxies, arriving at the compelling conclusion that the universe is strewn with "vital dust" capable of spawning life anywhere under the right conditions. Life and mind are not accidents; they are natural manifestations of matter. At the heart of Vital Dust is the concept of seven increasingly complex "ages" of life on Earth. With each age, de Duve shows the key event that defined the age and the new event that led to the next. He argues that simple, deterministic chemical reactions put life on track but that other mechanisms led inexorably to greater complexity and biodiversity: the development of a lock-and-key system that serves as the universal device of biological recognition at the molecular level; the emergence of a common ancestor of all organisms, from amoebas to humans; the great oxygen holocaust; the conversion of some bacteria into complex cells; and the successive improvements in reproductive strategies that made possible the spectacular diversity of life on Earth.
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