Planetary and Interstellar Processes Relevant to the Origins of Life

Author: D.C.B. Whittet

Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media

ISBN: 9780792345978

Category: Science

Page: 332

View: 2698


These are exciting times for exobiology. The ubiquity of organic molecules in interstellar clouds, comets and asteroids strongly supports a cosmic perspective on the origin of life. Data from both ground-based telescopes and the recently launched Infrared Space Observatory are providing new insight into the complexity of carbon-based chemistry beyond the Earth. Meteorites give us solid evidence for extraterrestrial amino acids, and putative fossil evidence for life in a 3.6 billion-year-old Martian meteorite hints that life in our system might not be the sole prerogative of the Earth. Giant planets have now been discovered orbiting other stars, and although such planets seem unlikely to be habitable themselves, their existence strongly suggests what many astronomers have long believed - that planetary systems are commonplace. All these topics are reviewed in this volume by active researchers. The level is appropriate for graduate students in astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth sciences, physics, and related disciplines. It will also provide a valuable source of reference for active researchers in these fields.

The Origin and Evolution of the Universe

Author: Ben Zuckerman,Matthew Arnold Malkan

Publisher: Jones & Bartlett Learning

ISBN: 9780763700300

Category: Science

Page: 192

View: 4625


The study of the origin and evolution of the universe encompasses many of the most fascinating questions in science. What is our place in the universe? How did everything in it get started, from galaxies and stars, to planets and people? And what does the future hold, for our star, and our universe? Recently, scientists have made remarkable advances in providing concrete answers to these profound questions. The new technologies of observational astronomy, with its ground- and space-based gamma-ray, X-ray, ultraviolet, infrared and radio telescopes, is truly producing a new golden age of discovery. This book presents the excitement of these new discoveries in the larger context of cosmic evolution. The distinguished contributors are leading researchers at the cutting edge of these fields, and they also excel in explaining these subjects to the broader public. They offer the latest insights into these rapidly advancing fields, covering the origin and evolution of the universe, the chemical elements, galaxies, the evolution of stars, planets, and biological life. Essential physical concepts are clearly and carefully explained at the introductory college level. Related concepts from chemistry, geology, and biology are organized and integrated into the discussions. An extensive glossary is provided, and mathematical detail has been deliberately kept simple, to make the chapters accessible to anyone with an appreciation of science. The result is stimulating exploration of the frontiers of modern science that will intrigue both amateurs and professionals.

Heaven and Earth:Vol. 16, USAS:Civilian Uses of Near-Earth Space

Author: Dorinda Dalmeyer,Kosta Tsipis

Publisher: Kluwer Law International B.V.

ISBN: 9041102620

Category: Law

Page: 282

View: 8541


Near-earth space, which extends to geosynchronous orbits where satellites remain faithfully over a fixed spot on the ground, does not lend itself to romantic fantasies of science fiction. It is a working place from which services can be delivered with ease and efficiency. Meteorology, seismic and crop-yield predictions, environmental monitoring, communications of all sorts, guidance and navigation, medical and educational services, treaty verification and photographic reconnaissance, news-gathering, scientific observation across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, prospecting, remote sensing, and monitoring of human activities are all in a day's work for near-earth space. Global cellular telephony, only a few years ago the exclusive privilege of comic-book heroes, is becoming a space-based commonplace. Planes that land in fog and cars that find their way in the labyrinthine streets of Tokyo guided from space are beyond a near horizon. Space is delivering its promise. This volume describes many of these activities and their prospects for changing the way we live, communicate, and travel on this Earth.

The Stardust Revolution

Author: Jacob Berkowitz

Publisher: Prometheus Books

ISBN: 1616145501

Category: Science

Page: 271

View: 7039


Three great scientific revolutions have shaped our understanding of the cosmos and our relationship to it. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries witnessed the Copernican Revolution, which bodychecked the Earth as the pivot point of creation and joined us with the rest of the cosmos as one planet among many orbiting the Sun. Three centuries later came the second great scientific revolution: the Darwinian Revolution. It removed us from a distinct, divine biological status to place us wholly in the ebb and flow of all terrestrial life. This book describes how we’re in the midst of a third great scientific revolution, five centuries in the making: the Stardust Revolution. It is the merging of the once-disparate realms of astronomy and evolutionary biology, and of the Copernican and Darwinian Revolutions, placing life in a cosmic context. The Stardust Revolution takes readers on a grand journey that begins on the summit of California’s Mount Wilson, where astronomers first realized that the universe is both expanding and evolving, to a radio telescope used to identify how organic molecules—the building blocks of life—are made by stars. It’s an epic story told through a scientific cast that includes some of the twentieth century’s greatest minds—including Nobel laureate Charles Townes, who discovered cosmic water—as well as the most ambitious scientific explorers of the twenty-first century, those racing to find another living planet. Today, an entirely new breed of scientists—astrobiologists and astrochemists—are taking the study of life into the space age. Astrobiologists study the origins, evolution, and distribution of life, not just on Earth, but in the universe. Stardust science is filling in the missing links in our evolutionary story, ones that extend our family tree back to the stars.

The Genetic Code and the Origin of Life

Author: Lluis Ribas de Pouplana

Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media

ISBN: 0387268871

Category: Science

Page: 254

View: 9517


Early Thoughts on RNA and the Origin of Life The full impact of the essential role of the nucleic acids in biological systems was forcefully demonstrated by the research community in the 1950s. Although Avery and his collaborators had identified DNA as the genetic material responsible for the transformation of bacteria in 1944, it was not until the early 1950s that the Hershey-Chase experiments provided a more direct demonstration of this role. Finally, the structural DNA double helix proposed by Watson and Crick in 1953 clearly created a structural frame work for the role of DNA as both information carrier and as a molecule that could undergo the necessary replication needed for daughter cells. Research continued by Kornberg and his colleagues in the mid-1950s emphasized the biochemistry and enzymology of DNA replication. At the same time, there was a growing interest in the role of RNA. The 1956 dis covery by David Davies and myself showed that polyadenylic acid and polyuridylic acid could form a double-helical RNA molecule but that it differed somewhat from DN A A large number of experiments were subsequendy carried out with synthetic polyribonucleotides which illustrated that RNA could form even more complicated helical structures in which the specificity of hydrogen bonding was the key element in determining the molecular conformation. Finally, in I960,1 could show that it was possible to make a hybrid helix.