Origins of Life
is based on a series of lectures which Freeman Dyson gave in Cambridge in 1985. Dyson was strongly influenced by Schrödinger's What is Life
- a work by a physicist which had substantial infuence on the progress of biology. Dyson feels that it is time to tackle the question of the origin of life on this planet. While many accounts of the origin of life concentrate on replication, Dyson thinks that metabolism is more important. He looks at how a homeostatic system might have arisen, and in the third chapter he presents a simple mathematical model of his ideas.
As a physicist looking at biology, Dyson realises that his ideas are mostly speculative, and so the reader shouldn't take them too seriously. However, entitling the fourth chapter 'Open Questions', does tend to suggest that the questions dealt with in the earlier chapters have been sorted out - which they haven't. But it is a stimulating read, and it helps to balance out some of the 'RNA world' ideas of other writers. Also, if you don't worry about the maths in chapter 3, then it's not too difficult to read - other books on this subject have a tendency to quickly get into 'long-word' mode.