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Pross, Addy

What is life? How chemistry becomes biology

In his famous 1944 text "What is Life?" Erwin Schrödinger pointed out how strange living systems appeared to be when viewed from a strictly physical standpoint. All living systems are highly organized and the emergence of these organized systems would seem to contradict the most basic tenets of physics and chemistry, which say that systems tend toward chaos and disorder. What is even more remarkable is that despite dramatic developments in molecular biology in the half century since Schrödinger´s remarks, we still don´t understand what life is or how it relates to the inanimate world.
In addressing Schrodinger´s classic question, renowned scientist Addy Pross offers a radically new approach to these fundamental questions of biology--what is life and how did it emerge. Pross examines these issues from a chemical perspective, providing a new understanding of how the sciences of chemistry and biology relate to one another. Pross shows that recent developments in a new area of chemistry called "systems chemistry" now allow researchers to outline the chemistry-biology connection, shedding light on how and why some prebiotic chemical systems are able to make the magical transformation from inanimate to animate. Through the application of these simple chemical concepts, this book reveals the essence of the animate-inanimate connection, explains the strange properties of living systems in chemical terms, and offers profound new insights into classical biological issues, such the mechanism and driving force for evolution and the origin of altruism.
Pross reveals that the emergence of life on earth and classical Darwinian theory are intimately related--that Darwinian theory is just the biological expression of a more general chemical principle, one that Darwin himself predicted would likely be uncovered in time.

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