It is my pleasure to announce that we have published HOW LIFE BEGAN by William Day.
Since writing GENESIS ON PLANET EARTH (Yale University Press, 1984) the
author has focused on the chemical processes that led to life’s origin, and the order
in which they appeared. In HOW LIFE BEGAN, Day presents his hypothesis on how
organic chemistry got started, and offers a step by step formation of the metabolic
and genetic systems that followed.
Day’s presentation of the origin and evolution of cellular life is compelling. He
postulates that the cell was founded and evolved on two principles: a) growth
sustained by an input of energy, and b) systems based on autocatalysis. The cell
became a network of interlinked autocatalytic systems in which the products of one
system became reactants for a succeeding system, linking them in a product/
The first self-sustaining and reproductive cell consisted of an autocatalytic
network of coenzymes. The genetic system then originated on the cell's metabolites
of nucleotides and amino acids.
An RNA replicating system composed of catalytic RNA molecules formed, a
translation mechanism evolved from its RNA products, and proteins produced
by the system became enzymes that supplanted the catalysts of all the
The genetic system began, therefore, as a parasite, became a symbiont, and
eventually merged with the metabolic cell into a fully integrated biological
cell based on enzymes.
Perhaps this book's most important contribution is that it challenges the
basic assumptions researchers have followed in the origin of life studies, and
replaces them with two fundamental principles. The author contends that life
originated on these principles and evolved consistently with them.
This is a book that solves a chemistry problem. Some background in chemistry
is helpful, therefore, but not necessary. Its specific descriptions make it an excellent
text for origin of life studies.