Advertisement

Why Life?

  • Sergio Carrà
Chapter
Part of the The Frontiers Collection book series (FRONTCOLL)

Abstract

In 1816, the English writer Mary Shelley wrote the Gothic novel “Frankenstein, or A Modern Prometheus”, inspired by the Titan from Greek mythology best known as the bringer of fire to humanity. In the book, the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who produces a grotesque but sapient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment, is told, taking the occasion to express some reflections on the possibility and opportunity of creating an artificial life. At that time, a harsh cultural controversy was afoot, focused on the conflict between vitalists versus mechanicists. The former were arguing that living things are distinguished from matter by some animating principle, baptized the “spark of life”, while the latter compared the animals to clockwork automata in compliance with a philosophical view supported by the mechanistic physiological theories of Cartesio.

References

  1. Dyson, Freeman. Origins of Life, Cambridge University Press, 2004. Smith, John Maynard, Eors Szathmary. The major Transition in Evolution, W.H.FREEMAN Ptectrum, Oxford, 1995.Google Scholar
  2. Davies, Walke, PCW. 2013. The algorithmic origins of life J. R. Soc Interface 10: 20120869.  https://doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2012.0869.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Robertson Michael P, Gerald F. Joyce. The Origins of the RNA World, Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol 2012;4:a003608.Google Scholar
  4. Joyce Gerald. Bit by Bit: The Darwinian Basis of Life, May 2012 | Volume 10 | Issue 5 | e1001323.Google Scholar
  5. Meng Wu, Paul G Higgs. The origin of life is a spatially localized stochastic transition, Biology Direct 2012, 7:42 http://www.biology-direct.com/content/7/1/42 Perunov Nikolay, Robert A. Marsland, and Jeremy L. England. Statistical Physics of Adaptation, PHYSICAL REVIEW X 6, 021036 (2016).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Venter J. Craig. Life at the Speed of Life, Viking, 2013.Google Scholar
  7. Gibson Daniel. Programming biological operating systems: genome design, assembly and activation, NATURE METHODS | VOL.11 NO.5 | May 2014.Google Scholar
  8. Mann Stephen. Systems of Creation: The Emergence of Life from Nonliving Matter, ACCOUNTS OF CHEMICAL RESEARCH 000–000 XXXX Vol. XXX, No. XX.Google Scholar
  9. Kachman Tal, Jeremy A. Owen, Jeremy L. England. Self-Organized Resonance during Search of a Diverse Chemical Space, PRL 119, 038001 (2017).Google Scholar
  10. Szostak, Jack W., David P. Bartel & P. Luigi Luisi, Synthetizing Life, NATURE|VOL409|18JANUARY2001|www.nature.com.Google Scholar
  11. Eigen Manfred. Self-organization of matter and the evolution of biological macromolecules, Naturwissenschaften 58 (1971) 465–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Woese Carl. Interpreting the universal phylogenetic tree, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 97 (2000) 8392–8396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Yockey H.P. An application of information theory to the Central Dogma and the sequence, J. Hypothesis Theor. Biol. 46 (1974) 369–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Herschy Barry, Alexandra Whicher, Eloi Camprubi, Cameron Watson, Lewis Dartnell, John Ward, Julian R. G. Evans, Nick Lane. An Origin-of-Life Reactor to Simulate Alkaline Hydrothermal Vents, J Mol Evol (2014) 79:213–227 DOI 10.1007/s00239-014-9658-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Donald E. Johnson. What Might Be a Protocell’s Minimal “Genome?”, The First Gene, David L. Abel, Editor, 2011, pp 287-304.Google Scholar
  16. Smith Eric, Harold J. Morowitz. The Orign and Nature of Life on Earth, Cambridge University Press, 2016.Google Scholar
  17. Clyde A. Hutchison III, Ray-Yuan Chuang, Vladimir N. Noskov, Nacyra Assad-Garcia, Thomas J. Deerinck, Mark H. Ellisman, John Gill, Krishna Kannan, Bogumil J. Karas, Li Ma, James F. Pelletier, Zhi-Qing Qi, R. Alexander Richter, Elizabeth A. Strychalski, Lijie Sun, Yo Suzuki, Billyana Tsvetanova, Kim S. Wise, Hamilton O. Smith, John I. Glass, Chuck Merryman, Daniel G. Gibson, J. Craig Venter. Design and synthesis of a minimal bacterial genome, Science, 25 MARCH 2016 • VOL 351 ISSUE 6280.Google Scholar
  18. Rutherford Adam. Creation, CURRENT, New York, 2013.Google Scholar
  19. Cox Brian, Andrew Cohen. Human Universe, William Collins, London, 2014.Google Scholar
  20. Dennett, Daniel C., From Bacteria to Bach and Back. The Evolution of Mind, 2017.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sergio Carrà
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemistry, Materials and Chemical EngineeringPolytechnic UniversityMilanItaly

Personalised recommendations