The Genesis Quest

A thrilling investigation into one of the big unanswered questions that science has to offer: the origins of life on Earth

‘The story of the quest to understand life’s genesis is a universal one, in which everyone can find pleasure and fascination. By asking how life came to be, we are implicitly asking why we are here, whether life exists on other planets, and what it means to be alive. This book is the story of a group of fragile, flawed humans who chose to wrestle with these questions. By exploring the origin of life, we can catch a glimpse of the infinite.’

How did life begin? Why are we here? These are some of the most profound questions we can ask.

For almost a century, a small band of eccentric scientists has struggled to answer these questions and explain one of the greatest mysteries of all: how and why life began on Earth. There are many different proposals, and each idea has attracted passionate believers who promote it with an almost religious fervour, as well as detractors who reject it with equal passion.

But the quest to unravel life’s genesis is not just a story of big ideas. It is also a compelling human story, rich in personalities, conflicts, and surprising twists and turns. Along the way the journey takes in some of the greatest discoveries in modern biology, from evolution and cells to DNA and life’s family tree. It is also a search whose end may finally be in sight.

In The Genesis Quest, Michael Marshall shows how the quest to understand life’s beginning is also a journey to discover the true nature of life, and by extension our place in the universe.


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