Origins: A Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth

Robert Shapiro, Author Summit Books $17.45 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-45939-0
This is popular science writing in top style: witty, informed, provocative. New York University chemistry professor Shapiro, DNA expert and co-author (with Gerald Feinberg) of Life Beyond Earth, expounds on the notion that modern theories of life's origin are inadequate and in a sense tend to become mythologies. Then, with a sobriety leavened by his consistent summoning of an imagined champion of true science called The Skeptic, he examines and rejects ""genesis'' theories Sir Fred Hoyle's ``planetary dust'' suggestions; the life-from-clay explanations; the Urey-Miller argument favored by scientists, that life began when lightning stirred earth's ``prebiotic soups''; and so on, including even so-called Scientific Creationism. In the end, Shapiro proves surprisingly sanguine that science will yet find the ``answer,'' offering his own bold reversal of molecular science's central dogma, that nucleic acids were the first genes. ``In the beginning was protein. Protein begat RNA and then both begat DNA.'' January
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-553-34355-7
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