Origins of Life : The Great Courses: Biology

  • by The Great Courses, Robert M. Hazen
  • Narrated by Professor Robert M. Hazen
  • Series: The Great Courses: Biology
  • 12 hrs and 23 mins
  • Lecture

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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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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- Terry Groff

Somewhat disappointing

This lecture series is presented by an enthusiastic lecturer who has much personal experience with the field. However I find the focus on personalities and events gets somehwat in the way of the science. The material feels a bit dated, referring e.g. to 2010 as a point in the far future. Also I find the large number of explicit references to visual materials unavailable to the listener annoying.
There is almost nothing here about organisms and the early stages of life as we know it; everything focuses on the chemical processes that led to the first life-like systems. This may be what you are after, but if your interest is in biology rather than chemistry, you may wish to think twice. Still for the subject matter it addresses, it's a good overview.

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- Kristoffer

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses