Astrobiology and the Search For Life on Mars

Kember, Sarah, ed. 2011. Astrobiology and the Search For Life on Mars. Open Humanities Press. ISBN 978-1-60785-255-1 [Edited Book]

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Introduction: What is Life?

J. B. S. Haldane (1949) and Erwin Schrödinger (1944), two of the twentieth century’s most influential scientists, posed the direct question, ‘what is life?’ and declared that it was a question unlikely to find an answer. Life, they suggested, might exceed the ability of science to represent it and even though the sciences of biology, physics and chemistry might usefully describe life’s structures, systems and processes, those sciences should not seek to reduce it to the sum of its parts. While Schrödinger drew attention to the physical structure of living matter, including especially the cell, Haldane asserted that ‘what is common to life is the chemical events’ (1949: 59) and so therefore life might be defined, though not reduced, to ‘a pattern of chemical processes’ involving the use of oxygen, enzymes and so on.

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Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



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Date Deposited:

22 Oct 2015 14:54

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:24


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