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The origin of life was an event probably unique in the Earth's history, and reconstructing this event is like assembling a puzzle made up of many pieces. These pieces are composed of information acquired from many different disciplines. The aim of this 1999 book is to integrate discoveries in astronomy, planetology, palaeontology, biology and chemistry, and use this knowledge to present plausible scenarios that give us a better understanding of the likely origin of life on Earth. Twenty-three top experts contribute chapters that discuss everything from the environment and atmosphere of the early Earth, through the appearance of organic molecules in the prebiotic environment, to primitive chiral chemical systems capable of self-replication and evolution by mutation. The book also discusses various clues to the origin of life that can be obtained by a study of the past and present microbial world, as well as from Saturn's moon Titan and the planet Mars. Chemists, biologists, earth scientists, and astronomers will find this book a thought-provoking summary of our knowledge of this extraordinary event.