Publisher description for Singularities : landmarks on the pathways of life / Christian de Duve.
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This brief but deep book presents a sophisticated consideration of the key steps or bottlenecks that constrain the path to the origin and evolution of life. De Duve, a pioneer of modern cell biology and Nobel laureate, gives in this book a contemporary response to Erwin Schrödinger's tremendously influential What Is Life?, which 60 years ago influenced many of the pioneers of molecular biology. De Duve offers shrewd insights on the conditions that may have first called forth life, and surveys the entire history of life using as landmarks the many remarkable singularities along the way, such as the single ancestry of all living beings, the universal genetic code, and the monophyletic origin of eukaryotes. The book offers a brief guided tour of biochemistry and phylogeny, from the basic molecular building blocks to a little on the origin of humans. Each successive singularity is introduced in a sequence paralleling the hypothetical development of features and conditions on the primitive earth, explaining how and why each transition to greater complexity occurred.
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