Evolution and Origin of Cells

A. Malcolm Campbell, Christopher Paradise

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It is easy to understand how cells are produced from preexisting cells. And it is possible to imagine how space dust condensed to form inanimate planets. But what stumps most people is how inanimate matter suddenly formed the first living cell. This problem has vexed scientists and philosophers over the millennia, but recent research has cracked open this black box that is the origin of life. After formally defining evolution, this book presents the modern classic experiments that show how abiotic molecules can be formed from inorganic starting materials. Once biologically important molecules such as lipids and RNA were formed, they could self-assemble into complex shapes that exhibit life-like traits such as growth, reproduction, competition and energy storage. Biologists have produced all these behaviors in non-living vesicles to the point it becomes difficult to distinguish when to know if an object is living or not. In addition, this book addresses the important question of how religion and science can coexist without one threatening the other.

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A. Malcolm Campbell

A. Malcolm Campbell teaches biology at Davidson College, NC. He received national and international education awards: Genetics Society of America (2013); American Association for the Advancement of Science (2012); and American Society for Cell Biology (2006). He was the founding co-editor in chief of CBE Life Sciences Education; founding director of Genome Consortium for Active Teaching (GCAT); and member of the American Society for Cell Biology governing council (2012–2014).

Christopher J. Paradise

Christopher J. Paradise is professor of biology and environmental studies at Davidson College. He teaches introductory biology, ecology, entomology, and topical seminars on ecotoxicology and renewable natural resources. He also occasionally leads a study abroad program in India.  His research evaluates anthropogenic factors that influence insect biodiversity at a variety of scales.  His current research interests include effects of land use patterns on pollinator communities in parks.