Life's Solution

Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe

Author: Simon Conway Morris

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 9780521603256

Category: Science

Page: 488

View: 7072

DOWNLOAD NOW »
Life's Solution builds a persuasive case for the predictability of evolutionary outcomes. The case rests on a remarkable compilation of examples of convergent evolution, in which two or more lineages have independently evolved similar structures and functions. The examples range from the aerodynamics of hovering moths and hummingbirds to the use of silk by spiders and some insects to capture prey. Going against the grain of Darwinian orthodoxy, this book is a must read for anyone grappling with the meaning of evolution and our place in the Universe. Simon Conway Morris is the Ad Hominen Professor in the Earth Science Department at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St. John's College and the Royal Society. His research focuses on the study of constraints on evolution, and the historical processes that lead to the emergence of complexity, especially with respect to the construction of the major animal body parts in the Cambrian explosion. Previous books include The Crucible of Creation (Getty Center for Education in the Arts, 1999) and co-author of Solnhofen (Cambridge, 1990). Hb ISBN (2003) 0-521-82704-3

Humans in Outer Space - Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Author: Ulrike Landfester,Nina-Louisa Remuss,Kai-Uwe Schrogl,Jean-Claude Worms

Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media

ISBN: 3709102804

Category: Technology & Engineering

Page: 333

View: 4935

DOWNLOAD NOW »
Following the first comprehensive transdisciplinary dialogue on humans in outer space which resulted in "Humans in Outer Space - Interdisciplinary Odysseys", the European Science Foundation (ESF), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) have continued and deepened this transdisciplinary dialogue, which can now be found in Humans in Outer Space - Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Going further than regarding humans as better-than-robot tools for exploration, it investigates the human quest for odysseys beyond Earth's atmosphere and reflects on arising issues related to Europe's role among the States conducting human exploration. It provides perspectives related to governance, management of space exploration, space settlements, the role of astronauts in the future as well as related to the encounter of extraterrestrial life.

The Runes of Evolution

How the Universe became Self-Aware

Author: Simon Conway Morris

Publisher: Templeton Foundation Press

ISBN: 1599474654

Category: Science

Page: 480

View: 3707

DOWNLOAD NOW »
How did human beings acquire imaginations that can conjure up untrue possibilities? How did the Universe become self-aware? In The Runes of Evolution, Simon Conway Morris revitalizes the study of evolution from the perspective of convergence, providing us with compelling new evidence to support the mounting scientific view that the history of life is far more predictable than once thought. A leading evolutionary biologist at the University of Cambridge, Conway Morris came into international prominence for his work on the Cambrian explosion (especially fossils of the Burgess Shale) and evolutionary convergence, which is the process whereby organisms not closely related (not monophyletic), independently evolve similar traits as a result of having to adapt to similar environments or ecological niches. In The Runes of Evolution, he illustrates how the ubiquity of convergence hints at an underlying framework whereby many outcomes, not least brains and intelligence, are virtually guaranteed on any Earth-like planet. Conway Morris also emphasizes how much of the complexity of advanced biological systems is inherent in microbial forms. By casting a wider net, The Runes of Evolution explores many neglected evolutionary questions. Some are remarkably general. Why, for example, are convergences such as parasitism, carnivory, and nitrogen fixation in plants concentrated in particular taxonomic hot spots? Why do certain groups have a particular propensity to evolve toward particular states? Some questions lead to unexpected evolutionary insights: If bees sleep (as they do), do they dream? Why is that insect copulating with an orchid? Why have sponges evolved a system of fiber optics? What do mantis shrimps and submarines have in common? If dinosaurs had not gone extinct what would have happened next? Will a saber-toothed cat ever re-evolve? Cona Morris observes: “Even amongst the mammals, let alone the entire tree of life, humans represent one minute twig of a vast (and largely fossilized) arborescence. Every living species is a linear descendant of an immense string of now-vanished ancestors, but evolution itself is the very reverse of linear. Rather it is endlessly exploratory, probing the vast spaces of biological hyperspace. Indeed this book is a celebration of how our world is (and was) populated by a riot of forms, a coruscating tapestry of life.” The Runes of Evolution is the most definitive synthesis of evolutionary convergence to be published to date.

Convergent Evolution

Limited Forms Most Beautiful

Author: George R. McGhee

Publisher: MIT Press

ISBN: 0262016427

Category: Science

Page: 322

View: 2244

DOWNLOAD NOW »
Charles Darwin famously concluded On the Origin of Species with a vision of "endless forms most beautiful" continually evolving. More than 150 years later many evolutionary biologists see not endless forms but the same, or very similar, forms evolving repeatedly in many independent species lineages. A porpoise's fishlike fins, for example, are not inherited from fish ancestors but are independently derived convergent traits. In this book, George McGhee describes the ubiquity of the phenomenon of convergent evolution and connects it directly to the concept of evolutionary constraint--the idea that the number of evolutionary pathways available to life are not endless, but quite limited. Convergent evolution occurs on all levels, from tiny organic molecules to entire ecosystems of species. McGhee demonstrates its ubiquity in animals, both herbivore and carnivore; in plants; in ecosystems; in molecules, including DNA, proteins, and enzymes; and even in minds, describing problem-solving behavior and group behavior as the products of convergence. For each species example, he provides an abbreviated list of the major nodes in its phylogenetic classification, allowing the reader to see the evolutionary relationship of a group of species that have independently evolved a similar trait by convergent evolution. McGhee analyzes the role of functional and developmental constraints in producing convergent evolution, and considers the scientific and philosophical implications of convergent evolution for the predictability of the evolutionary process.

Richard Dawkins

How a scientist changed the way we think

Author: Alan Grafen,Mark Ridley

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191500771

Category: Science

Page: 304

View: 9103

DOWNLOAD NOW »
This sparkling collection explores the impact of Richard Dawkins as scientist, rationalist, and one of the most important thinkers alive today. Specially commissioned pieces by leading figures in science, philosophy, literature, and the media, such as Daniel C. Dennett, Matt Ridley, Steven Pinker, Philip Pullman, and the Bishop of Oxford, highlight the breadth and range of Dawkins' influence on modern science and culture, from the gene's eye view of evolution to his energetic engagement in public debates on science, rationalism, and religion. The volume includes personal reminiscences and critical debate as well as accessible discussions of science - it provides a stimulating tribute to a remarkable intellectual.

The Deep Structure of Biology

Is Convergence Sufficiently Ubiquitous to Give a Directional Signal

Author: Simon Conway Morris

Publisher: Templeton Foundation Press

ISBN: 1599471388

Category: Religion

Page: 243

View: 7540

DOWNLOAD NOW »
Twelve renowned scientists and theologians offer penetrating insights into the evolution dialogue in The Deep Structure of Biology. Each considers whether the orthodox model of evolution is sufficient and offers his/her own perspective on evolution and biology. Essays include: •Chance and Necessity in Evolution •Green Plants as Intelligent Organisms •Canny Corvoids and Political Primates: A Case for Convergent Evolution in Intelligence •Social and Cultural Evolution in the Ocean: Convergences and Contrasts with Terrestrial Systems •Purpose in Nature: On the Possibility of a Theology of Evolution Editor Simon Conway Morris provides the introduction and an overview of the issues as well as an essay on evolution and convergence. Other contributors are: Richard Lenski, George McGhee, Karl Niklas, Anthony Trewavas, Nigel Franks, Nicola Clayton, Nathan Emery, HalWhitehead, Robert Foley, Michael Ruse, Celia Deane-Drummond, and John Haught. The discussion of biology and evolution in these essays broadens the scope of the traditional evolution discussion as it aims to stimulate the development of further research programs. Scholars in the science and religion field will find this book a valuable resource.

Fitness of the Cosmos for Life

Biochemistry and Fine-Tuning

Author: John D. Barrow

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 0521871026

Category: Science

Page: 501

View: 4190

DOWNLOAD NOW »
An interdisciplinary book for scientists interested in the origin and existence of life in our universe, first published in 2007.

Science, Religion, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Author: David Wilkinson

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 019166961X

Category: Science

Page: 240

View: 5357

DOWNLOAD NOW »
If the discovery of life elsewhere in the universe is just around the corner, what would be the consequences for religion? Would it represent another major conflict between science and religion, even leading to the death of faith? Some would suggest that the discovery of any suggestion of extraterrestrial life would have a greater impact than even the Copernican and Darwinian revolutions. It is now over 50 years since the first modern scientific papers were published on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Yet the religious implications of this search and possible discovery have never been systematically addressed in the scientific or theological arena. SETI is now entering its most important era of scientific development. New observation techniques are leading to the discovery of extra-solar planets daily, and the Kepler mission has already collected over 1000 planetary candidates. This deluge of data is transforming the scientific and popular view of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence. Earth-like planets outside of our solar system can now be identified and searched for signs of life. Now is a crucial time to assess the scientific and theological questions behind this search. This book sets out the scientific arguments undergirding SETI, with particular attention to the uncertainties in arguments and the strength of the data already assembled. It assesses not only the discovery of planets but other areas such as the Fermi paradox, the origin and evolution of intelligent life, and current SETI strategies. In all of this it reflects on how these questions are shaped by history and pop culture and their relationship with religion, especially Christian theology. It is argued that theologians need to take seriously SETI and to examine some central doctrines such as creation, incarnation, revelation, and salvation in the light of the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

Communication and Engagement with Science and Technology

Issues and Dilemmas - A Reader in Science Communication

Author: John K. Gilbert,Susan M. Stocklmayer

Publisher: Routledge

ISBN: 1136662685

Category: Education

Page: 352

View: 7365

DOWNLOAD NOW »
Science communication seeks to engage individuals and groups with evidence-based information about the nature, outcomes, and social consequences of science and technology. This text provides an overview of this burgeoning field ─ the issues with which it deals, important influences that affect it, the challenges that it faces. It introduces readers to the research-based literature about science communication and shows how it relates to actual or potential practice. A "Further Exploration" section provides suggestions for activities that readers might do to explore the issues raised. Organized around five themes, each chapter addresses a different aspect of science communication: • Models of science communication – theory into practice • Challenges in communicating science • Major themes in science communication • Informal learning • Communication of contemporary issues in science and society Relevant for all those interested in and concerned about current issues and developments in science communication, this volume is an ideal text for courses and a must-have resource for faculty, students, and professionals in this field.

What's the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? New Edition with Study Guide

A Guide to What Matters Most

Author: Martin Thielen

Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press

ISBN: 9781611640922

Category: Religion

Page: 208

View: 3745

DOWNLOAD NOW »
Pastor and author Martin Thielen has compiled a list of ten things people need to believe, and ten things they don't, in order to be a Christian. This lively and engaging book will be a help to seekers as well as a comfort to believers who may find themselves questioning some of the assumptions they grew up with. With an accessible, storytelling style that's grounded in solid biblical scholarship, Thielen shows how Christians don't need to believe that sinners will be "left behind" to burn in hell or that it's heresy to believe in evolution. And while we must always take the Bible seriously, we don't always have to take it literally. At the same time, Christians do need to believe in Jesus--his life, his teachings, his death and resurrection, and his vision for the world. A great benefit of those beliefs is that they provide promising answers to life's most profound questions, including: Where is God? What matters most? What brings fulfillment? What about suffering? Is there hope? Thielen articulates centrist, mainline Christianity in a way that's fresh and easy to understand, and offers authentic Christian insights that speak to our deepest needs. This new edition includes a leader's guide, previously only available online, and a new introduction from the author that reflects on the book's reception. The leader's guide features unique and easily implemented aids for carrying out a seven-week, congregation-wide initiative that will help local churches reach out to their communities. More information is available at thielen.wjkbooks.com.

On the Origin of Autonomy

A New Look at the Major Transitions in Evolution

Author: Bernd Rosslenbroich

Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media

ISBN: 331904141X

Category: Philosophy

Page: 297

View: 1414

DOWNLOAD NOW »
This volume describes features of autonomy and integrates them into the recent discussion of factors in evolution. In recent years ideas about major transitions in evolution are undergoing a revolutionary change. They include questions about the origin of evolutionary innovation, their genetic and epigenetic background, the role of the phenotype and of changes in ontogenetic pathways. In the present book, it is argued that it is likewise necessary to question the properties of these innovations and what was qualitatively generated during the macroevolutionary transitions. The author states that a recurring central aspect of macroevolutionary innovations is an increase in individual organismal autonomy whereby it is emancipated from the environment with changes in its capacity for flexibility, self-regulation and self-control of behavior. The first chapters define the concept of autonomy and examine its history and its epistemological context. Later chapters demonstrate how changes in autonomy took place during the major evolutionary transitions and investigate the generation of organs and physiological systems. They synthesize material from various disciplines including zoology, comparative physiology, morphology, molecular biology, neurobiology and ethology. It is argued that the concept is also relevant for understanding the relation of the biological evolution of man to his cultural abilities. Finally the relation of autonomy to adaptation, niche construction, phenotypic plasticity and other factors and patterns in evolution is discussed. The text has a clear perspective from the context of systems biology, arguing that the generation of biological autonomy must be interpreted within an integrative systems approach.

Planets and Life

The Emerging Science of Astrobiology

Author: Woodruff T. Sullivan, III,John Baross

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 1316264912

Category: Science

Page: N.A

View: 2067

DOWNLOAD NOW »
Astrobiology involves the study of the origin and history of life on Earth, planets and moons where life may have arisen, and the search for extraterrestrial life. It combines the sciences of biology, chemistry, palaeontology, geology, planetary physics and astronomy. This textbook brings together world experts in each of these disciplines to provide the most comprehensive coverage of the field currently available. Topics cover the origin and evolution of life on Earth, the geological, physical and chemical conditions in which life might arise and the detection of extraterrestrial life on other planets and moons. The book also covers the history of our ideas on extraterrestrial life and the origin of life, as well as the ethical, philosophical and educational issues raised by astrobiology. Written to be accessible to students from diverse backgrounds, this text will be welcomed by advanced undergraduates and graduates who are taking astrobiology courses.

Plant Behaviour and Intelligence

Author: Anthony Trewavas

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191028916

Category: Science

Page: 320

View: 4974

DOWNLOAD NOW »
This book provides a convincing argument for the view that whole cells and whole plants growing in competitive wild conditions show aspects of plant behaviour that can be accurately described as 'intelligent'. Trewavas argues that behaviour, like intelligence, must be assessed within the constraints of the anatomical and physiological framework of the organism in question. The fact that plants do not have centralized nervous systems for example, does not exclude intelligent behaviour. Outside the human dimension, culture is thought largely absent and fitness is the biological property of value. Thus, solving environmental problems that threaten to reduce fitness is another way of viewing intelligent behaviour and has a similar meaning to adaptively variable behaviour. The capacity to solve these problems might be considered to vary in different organisms, but variation does not mean absence. By extending these ideas into a book that allows a critical and amplified discussion, the author hopes to raise an awareness of the concept of purposive behaviour in plants.

Animal Evolution

Genomes, Fossils, and Trees

Author: Maximilian J. Telford,D. Timothy J. Littlewood

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199549427

Category: Science

Page: 245

View: 2708

DOWNLOAD NOW »
Describing and understanding the evolution of the diversity of bodyplans is a major goal of evolutionary biology. Taking a modern, integrated approach to this question, a group of leading researchers describe how modern techniques and disciplines have been combined, resulting in a dramatic renaissance in the study of animal evolution.

Scientific Approaches to the Philosophy of Religion

Author: Y. Nagasawa

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 1137026014

Category: Philosophy

Page: 280

View: 3734

DOWNLOAD NOW »
Tackling central problems in philosophy of religion by referring to relevant theories and findings in cognitive science, anthropology, developmental psychology, decision theory, biology, physics, cosmology, the contributors address a range of topics, including divine attributes; God, creation and evolution; God and the universe; religious beliefs.

The Moral Arc

How Science Makes Us Better People

Author: Michael Shermer

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

ISBN: 0805096930

Category: Science

Page: 560

View: 3920

DOWNLOAD NOW »
Bestselling author Michael Shermer's exploration of science and morality that demonstrates how the scientific way of thinking has made people, and society as a whole, more moral From Galileo and Newton to Thomas Hobbes and Martin Luther King, Jr., thinkers throughout history have consciously employed scientific techniques to better understand the non-physical world. The Age of Reason and the Enlightenment led theorists to apply scientific reasoning to the non-scientific disciplines of politics, economics, and moral philosophy. Instead of relying on the woodcuts of dissected bodies in old medical texts, physicians opened bodies themselves to see what was there; instead of divining truth through the authority of an ancient holy book or philosophical treatise, people began to explore the book of nature for themselves through travel and exploration; instead of the supernatural belief in the divine right of kings, people employed a natural belief in the right of democracy. In The Moral Arc, Shermer will explain how abstract reasoning, rationality, empiricism, skepticism--scientific ways of thinking--have profoundly changed the way we perceive morality and, indeed, move us ever closer to a more just world.

The Oxford Handbook of Atheism

Author: Stephen Bullivant,Michael Ruse

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191667404

Category: Religion

Page: 784

View: 4283

DOWNLOAD NOW »
Recent books by, among others, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens have thrust atheism firmly into the popular, media, and academic spotlight. This so-called New Atheism is arguably the most striking development in western socio-religious culture of the past decade or more. As such, it has spurred fertile (and often heated) discussions both within, and between, a diverse range of disciplines. Yet atheism, and the New Atheism, are by no means co-extensive. Interesting though it indeed is, the New Atheism is a single, historically and culturally specific manifestation of positive atheism (the that there is/are no God/s), which is itself but one form of a far deeper, broader, and more significant global phenomenon. The Oxford Handbook of Atheism is a pioneering edited volume, exploring atheism—understood in the broad sense of 'an absence of belief in the existence of a God or gods'—in all the richness and diversity of its historical and contemporary expressions. Bringing together an international team of established and emerging scholars, it probes the varied manifestations and implications of unbelief from an array of disciplinary perspectives (philosophy, history, sociology, anthropology, demography, psychology, natural sciences, gender and sexuality studies, literary criticism, film studies, musicology) and in a range of global contexts (Western Europe, North America, post-communist Europe, the Islamic world, Japan, India). Both surveying and synthesizing previous work, and presenting the major fruits of innovative recent research, the handbook is set to be a landmark text for the study of atheism.

The Cosmic Zoo

Complex Life on Many Worlds

Author: Dirk Schulze-Makuch,William Bains

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 3319620452

Category: Science

Page: 232

View: 588

DOWNLOAD NOW »
Are humans a galactic oddity, or will complex life with human abilities develop on planets with environments that remain habitable for long enough? In a clear, jargon-free style, two leading researchers in the burgeoning field of astrobiology critically examine the major evolutionary steps that led us from the distant origins of life to the technologically advanced species we are today. Are the key events that took life from simple cells to astronauts unique occurrences that would be unlikely to occur on other planets? By focusing on what life does - it's functional abilities - rather than specific biochemistry or anatomy, the authors provide plausible answers to this question. Systematically exploring the various pathways that led to the complex biosphere we experience on planet Earth, they show that most of the steps along that path are likely to occur on any world hosting life, with only two exceptions: One is the origin of life itself – if this is a highly improbable event, then we live in a rather “empty universe”. However, if this isn’t the case, we inevitably live in a universe containing a myriad of planets hosting complex as well as microbial life - a “cosmic zoo”. The other unknown is the rise of technologically advanced beings, as exemplified on Earth by humans. Only one technological species has emerged in the roughly 4 billion years life has existed on Earth, and we don’t know of any other technological species elsewhere. If technological intelligence is a rare, almost unique feature of Earth's history, then there can be no visitors to the cosmic zoo other than ourselves. Schulze-Makuch and Bains take the reader through the history of life on Earth, laying out a consistent and straightforward framework for understanding why we should think that advanced, complex life exists on planets other than Earth. They provide a unique perspective on the question that puzzled the human species for centuries: are we alone?

Linnaeus and homo religiosus

biological roots of religious awareness and human identity ; proceedings from a conference at the Faculty of Theology, Uppsala University, 30th of May - 2nd of June 2007, in connection with the celebrations of the birth of Carl von Linnaeus

Author: Carl Reinhold Bråkenhielm

Publisher: Uppsala Universitet

ISBN: 9789155476410

Category: Religion

Page: 231

View: 4617

DOWNLOAD NOW »
"Are we by nature religious and how should we then understand Homo Modernus (the modern man), who seems to lack religious awareness? What are the biological roots of religion and the genetic basis for religious experience? How can we relate contemporary biological and theological theories of human nature to one another? These questions were the background of a conference arranged by the Faculty of Theology at Uppsala University on the 30th of May to the 2nd of June 2007. The conference was a part of the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Carl von Linné. The theme of the conference was "Linneaus and Homo Religiosus - Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on the Biological Roots of Religious Awareness and Human Identity". This volume contains most of the lectures and papers from this conference."--Publisher's description.

Rare Earth

Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe

Author: Peter D. Ward,Donald Brownlee

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 0387218483

Category: Science

Page: 338

View: 8073

DOWNLOAD NOW »
What determines whether complex life will arise on a planet, or even any life at all? Questions such as these are investigated in this groundbreaking book. In doing so, the authors synthesize information from astronomy, biology, and paleontology, and apply it to what we know about the rise of life on Earth and to what could possibly happen elsewhere in the universe. Everyone who has been thrilled by the recent discoveries of extrasolar planets and the indications of life on Mars and the Jovian moon Europa will be fascinated by Rare Earth, and its implications for those who look to the heavens for companionship.