Books : reviews

A. I. Oparin.
Origin of Life.
Dover. 1938

This is a classic of biochemistry—the first detailed exposition of the theory that living tissue was preceded upon earth by a long and gradual evolution of nitrogen and carbon compounds. It is still one of the basic works in any science library, as is proved by repeated reference to it in later books and monography.

An historical introduction first covers theories of the origin of life from the Greeks, through the middle ages and Renaissance, to the moderns. Three basic theories arc examined in light of modern knowledge: that life spontaneously arises perpetually; that life has always been present in the universe as a separate basic substance; that life arose once at some distant period of the earth's past.

Techniques of modern biochemistry are then applied to the problem by Dr. Oparin, and the topic is considered afresh in the following chapters: primary forms of carbon and nitrogen compounds; origin of organic substances, primary proteins; origin of primarily colloidal systems; origin and further evolution of primary organisms.