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Publisher's Summary

Four billion years ago, the infant Earth was a seething cauldron of erupting volcanoes, raining meteors, and hot noxious gases, totally devoid of life. But a relatively short time later - only 100 million to 200 million years - the planet was teeming with primitive organisms.
What happened? Now you can find out - in a series of 24 vibrant lectures from a leader of the NASA - supported team studying the origins of life in the universe and also one of the nation's foremost science educators. The lectures take you from path-breaking experiments in the 19th century that proved the molecules of life to be no different from other chemicals, to our increasingly sophisticated modern understanding of just how the chemistry of life works, to the near certainty that the 21st century will see spectacular and unpredictable developments in our understanding of how life began. For all its familiarity, life is an elusive concept that is hard to define, much less explain. These lectures show how scientists are systematically building a picture of the process by which those chemical reactions on the early Earth eventually led to the first appearance of the DNA-protein world that remains the fundamental basis of all life today. And you'll join them as they probe for evidence of life beyond our planet.
Crammed with fascinating experiments, surprising results, heated debates, blind alleys, and promising leads, the investigation of life's origins is a mystery story in the truest sense - one in which the clues are slowly adding up but the solution is not yet in hand.
©2005 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2005 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Terry Groff on 04-22-15

Excellent course

Can't seem to get enough of Robert Hazen's courses, so I listened to this great topic a second time, learning more this time around about the origins of life. I'm impressed he remains so enthusiastic about his own beliefs, but presents competitive theories in a very unbiased way. Well worth my time.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

By Richard S. Zipper on 06-17-14

Well organized, clearly presented, comprehensive

I have an intense interest in the subject matter.
This is the best book on the subject I have "read" so far.

This is a comprehensive overview of the proposed theories in the search for the plausible scenarios for the origins of life. Dr. Hazen brings the subject to life (pun intended) by not only talking about the science, but also the personalities, the politics and the process of scientific exploration.

This book is a worthwhile read for scientists,but is still very accessible to the lay person as well.

Brilliant !

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Michael McDaid on 07-20-15

spell binding!

Would you consider the audio edition of Origins of Life to be better than the print version?

Yet another gem of a lecture course from Robert Hazen. A mind expanding tour de force.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Planet Earth!

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The Cambrian Explosion.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Earth Rocks!

Any additional comments?

First rate presentation of exciting material!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

By Robert Winston on 10-31-16

An excellent introduction to abiogenesis

I have a lay interest in abiogenesis and Robert Hazen has worked in this field for a long while and is a recognised expert in this field.

It is not overly challenging and skips along at a good pace.

It's a good place for anyone interested in the origins of life to start.

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By Malcolm on 06-26-15


What a wonderful series. Quite inspiring. I would love to be starting out as a young scientist chipping away at such a wonderful subject as the origin of life. A supernatural creator isn't even mentioned in this course which is as it should be. Thankyou for a brilliant 12 hrs of listening.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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