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The Outer Reaches of Life by J. R. Postgate

The Outer Reaches of Life

by J. R. Postgate

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0521558735, Paperback)

Humankind, it turns out, is a rather fragile species, demanding temperate climates, limited atmospheric pressures, and an environment relatively free of acidity, alkalinity, and toxicity in order to survive and reproduce. Microbes are far less picky about their surroundings and, as John Postgate explains in The Outer Reaches of Life, have managed to adapt to virtually every ecological niche that our planet offers. Extremes of heat, pressure, acidity, or alkalinity are no barrier to microbial life. There are microbes that feast on sulfur, iron, nitrogen, and hydrogen--even oils, plastics, and fluoroacetate, a potent pesticide. Postgate adeptly illustrates the variety of the microbial world and explains (in a jargon-free fashion) what scientists understand of its functioning. But perhaps the strongest feature of this book is its ability to convey the intense challenges facing microbe researches who strive to unlock the secrets of microscopic life and its amazing adaptations.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:44 -0400)

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The invisible world of microbes - capable of surviving in the most harsh and inhospitable conditions on earth - reveals the remarkable potential and resilience of life itself. John Postgate's fascinating exploration of these outer reaches of life shows how understanding microbes can provide new clues to the origin and evolution of terrestrial life, and offers glimpses of how life might have established itself elsewhere in the universe. In the process, it raises profound questions about death, sensation and individuality, and insights into the nature of scientific progress. The feats of modern biotechnology are just one manifestation of the astonishing resources of microbes illuminated in John Postgate's lucid and intriguing account.… (more)

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