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The Outer Reaches of Lifeby John Postgate
Synopses & Reviews
Since the dawn of life on Earth, the world has been gradually transformed by living things into a comfortable home for plants, animals and ourselves. But many harsh and seemingly inhospitable places remain, and it is the inhabitants of such places, mainly invisible microbes, that reveal the remarkable potential and resilience of life itself. How do microbes survive, even flourish, in superheated water or supercooled brine; at enormous pressures; without air; amid poisons? And what part do, and did, they all play in making the Earth hospitable? In this fascinating account, for lay readers, John Postgate, one of Britain's leading microbiologists, tells of the diverse adjustments microbes have made to apparently impossible habitats. Modern understanding provides new clues to the origin and evolution of terrestrial life, offers glimpses of how life might have established itself elsewhere in the universe, and raises profound questions about death, sensation and individuality - as well as illustrating the often muddled pathways of scientific progress.
John Postgate's fascinating exploration of the invisible world of microbes provides new clues to the origin and evolution of terrestrial life, and reveals the remarkable resilience and potential of life itself.
The world of microbes extends to some of the most inhospitable places on Earth. What features enable them to survive such extremes and what role have microbes played in transforming the primitive Earth and in the evolution of life itself? In this fascinating account John Postgate, one of this country's leading microbiologists, conveys to non-scientist readers something of the way in which our understanding of that largely invisible world of living things answers these and many other profound questions.
An introduction to the exotic world of microbes and their incredible diversity.
The invisible world of microbes--capable of surviving in the most harsh and inhospitable conditions on earth--reveals the remarkable potential and resilience of life itself. John Postgate's fascinating exploration of these outer reaches of life shows how understanding microbes can provide new clues to the origin and evolution of terrestrial life, and offers glimpses of how life might have established itself elsewhere in the Universe. In the process, it raises profound questions about death, sensation and individuality, and insights into the nature of scientific progress. The feats of modern biotechnology are just one manifestation of the astonishing resources of microbes illuminated in John Postgate's lucid and intriguing account.
Table of Contents
1. Microbes and terrestrial life; 2. Some like it hot; 3. Cool, man, cool; 4. The big squeeze; 5. A salty tale; 6. Corrosive and slippery places; 7. Life without oxygen; 8. Living on minerals; 9. Exotic menus; 10. Of wraiths and ghosts; 11. The inertness of nitrogen; 12. Getting about; 13. Microsenses; 14. A private space; 15. Company; 16. Immortality and the Big Sleep; 17. Self-adjustment; 18. Life's outer reaches.
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