The Creation of Life: Past, Future, Alien
YA-T, GA **
This is a scientifically sound and stimulating book that presents and critiques the experimental evidence for and interpretations of life's earthly origins, the structure and functions of living cells, the plausibility of extraterrestrial life and evolution, and present, related attempts via genetic engineering to resolve the molecular mechanisms of known living systems. Prime attention is given to availability (from the Big Bang) of forces (such as gravity, coulombic, and so on) and structures (as atoms, crystals, molecules, and so on) that are of special relevance to replicative molecules (such as DNA) protein (enzymatic, structural, and so on) and "reading-information" molecules (mRNA and tRNA) and their relationships to living systems. The formation of these "life" molecules and their usefulness to life are factually and clearly detailed in the text aided by excellent and numerous "flow" diagrams (chapters one through eight). The last two chapters discuss "aliens" and the status and future of genetic engineering. In terms of the book's treatment of scientific process, Scott often notes the hypotheses and theories that led to experimental treatment and, in instances of interpretation, provides alternative theories that could also possibly explain experimental results. Some fruitful speculations, personal references and interesting anecdotes liven this excellent account. A fine selected reading list and apt index close the book. All lay individuals, teachers, sophisticated research specialists--in short, everyone--should read and reread this small, factually accurate, and scientific account.
--Reviewed by William B. Nutting in Science Books and Films, 23/1 (September/October 1988), p. 34.