A Brief History of Creation: Science and the Search for the Origin of Life
by Bill Mesler and H. James Cleaves II
W. W. Norton, 2015 (($27.95))
No scientific quandary is as confounding, controversial or important as the question of how life began, argue journalist Mesler and geochemist Cleaves. “It touches upon not only how we came to be, but why we came to be,” they write. “It is, in a sense, the ultimate question.” Here the authors chronicle the historical quest to understand how life arose from nonlife, from Aristotle's theory of the “spontaneous generation” of life, to Charles Darwin's 19th-century musing on the origin occurring “in some warm little pond,” to the latest modern-day research on the “LUCA,” or last universal common ancestor. They find that the scientific understanding of life itself has advanced considerably over the years but that the fundamental event that began it some four billion years ago is just as much a mystery as it ever has been.