Welcome to the new version of CaltechAUTHORS. Login is currently restricted to library staff. If you notice any issues, please email coda@library.caltech.edu
Published December 1974 | Published
Journal Article Open

The Origin of Life


The origin of life is in a sense a genetic problem, for, as H. J. Muller pointed out many years ago, the essential attribute that identifies living matter is its capacity to replicate itself and its variants (1). Because this uniquely biological property has its physical basis in proteins and nucleic acids, the goal of modern work on the origin of life is to discover the manner of origin of these polymers and of the interactions between them that constitute the genetic mechanism. In attempting to review this subject in a limited space, we cannot undertake an exhaustive treatment. Rather, we summarize work published principally since 1970 in the following areas, with emphasis on those aspects that are of greatest current interest: 1. precambrian paleontology, 2. chemical evolution of genetically important monomers, 3. prebiotic dehydration-condensation reactions, 4. organic compounds in meteorites and interstellar space, and 5. biological exploration of the planets. A large number of review articles (2-5), critical and theoretical discussions (6-8), books (9-16), and conference proceedings (17-21) dealing with the origin of have appeared in recent years. In addition, a new serial, the Journal of Molecular Evolution, publishing papers on this and related subjects, appeared in 1971; the journal Space Life Sciences has been renamed "Origins of Life," and a society, the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life, was recently founded.

Additional Information

© 1974 Annual Reviews. We wish to acknowledge support from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, research grant NGR 05-002-308.

Attached Files

Published - HORarg74.pdf


Files (1.3 MB)
Name Size Download all
1.3 MB Preview Download

Additional details

August 22, 2023
October 13, 2023