These resources provide excellent information on the complex subject of how life originated on Earth. The titles are selected to accommodate all levels of knowledge of the subject.
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Scientists Close to Reconstructing First Living Cell (Dr. Ricardo Alonso & Jack Szostak, Szostak Lab, Harvard Univ)
New Glimpses of Life’s Puzzling Origins (by Nicholas Wade) NYT Science Times section 6/16/09:
Chemists edge closer to recreating early life (Scripps Research Inst)
Life at Blood Falls Astrobiology Magazine 4/21/09 (NASA website). Viroids:molecular vestiges of the RNA world Mass extinctions:ancient viruses may hold clues to life origins New details about mysterious giant virus uncovered Origin of life on Earth:simple fusion to jump-start evolution Life origins were easier than was thought Asteroid attack 4 billion years ago may have accelerated life on Earth Astronomer to search space for precursors of life Michigan astronomer to search in space for precursors of life First direct observations of biological particles in high-altitude ice clouds We owe it all to comets Did comets contain key ingredients for life on Earth Pre-life molecules present in comets Does prebiotic material exist in outer space Did life begin in space? New evidence from comets Two highly complex organic molecules detected in space Researchers discover two highly complex organic molecules detected in space Deep-sea rocks point to early oxygen on Earth Origins of sulfur in rocks tells early oxygen story New link between the evolution of complex life forms on Earth and nickel and methane gas Molecular midwives hold clues to the origin of life The mother of all enzymes RNA world Scientists hope to unlock mysteries of proteins New chemical reaction for DNA production in bacteria and viruses discovered Groundbreaking study reveals intermediary steps of genetic encoding for the first time Evolutionary origin of bacterial chromosomes revealed Researchers shake up scientific theory on motor protein Researchers study signaling networks that set up genetic code Discovering the secret code behind photosynthesis How microRNAs block protein synthesis Scientists uncover new class of non-protein coding genes in mammals with key functions Junk DNA has important role, researchers find Scientists deconstruct cell division Scientists give a hand(edness) to the search for alien life The search for unusual alien life on Earth and life that can survive on Mars Life in the universe, almost certainly. Intelligence, maybe not
Hazen, Robert W. 2005. Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life’s Origin. Washington, DC: Joseph Henry Press. (geochemistry orientation)
Knoll, Andrew H. 2005 (2003). Life on a young planet: the first three billion years of evolution on Earth. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ Press
Mason, Stephen F. 1992. Chemical Evolution: Origin of the Elements, Molecules, and Living Systems. Oxford:Clarendon Press; NY: Oxford Univ Press
Morowitz, H.J. 1992. Beginnings of Cellular Life. New Haven:Yale Univ Press Plaxco, Kevin W. and Michael Gross. 2006. Astrobiology: a brief introduction. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Univ Press
Rensberger, Boyce. 1999. Life itself: exploring the realm of the living cell. Oxford: Oxford Univ Press
Rohlfing, Duane L. and A.I. Oparin (Eds). 1972. Molecular evolution: prebiological and biological. NY: Plenum Press. Oparin is the originator of the theory (in 1920s) that life originated from ordinary chemical processes in a reducing atmosphere on the early Earth.
Schopf, William J. (Ed). 1983. Earth’s earliest biosphere: its origin and evolution. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton Univ Press. (standard –and very technical–reference for geochemical processes)
Thomas, P.J., Chyba, C.F., & McKay, C.P. (Eds). (1997) Comets and the Origin and Evolution of Life. NY: Springer. * Technical but excellent resource
Zubay, Geoffrey L. 1996. Origins of Life on the Earth and in the Cosmos. Dubuque, IA : Wm. C. Brown Pub.