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The Fifth Miracle

The Fifth Miracle

The Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life

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Are We Alone in the Universe?

In this provocative and far-reaching book, internationally acclaimed physicist and writer Paul Davies confronts one of science's great outstanding mysteries -- the origin of life.

Three and a half billion years ago, Mars resembled earth. It was warm and wet and could have supported primitive organisms. If life once existed on Mars, might it have originated there and traveled to earth inside meteorites blasted into space by cosmic impacts?

Davies builds on recent scientific discoveries and theories to address larger questions of existence: What, exactly, is life? Is it the inevitable by-product of physical laws, as many scientists maintain, or an almost miraculous accident? Are we alone in the universe, or will life emerge on all earthlike planets? And if there is life elsewhere in the universe, is it preordained to evolve toward greater complexity and intelligence?

Through his search for answers to these questions, Davies explores the ultimate mystery of mankind's existence -- who we are and what our place might be in the unfolding drama of the cosmos.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780684863092 | 
  • March 2000
List Price $16.00
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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1: The Meaning of Life

Imagine boarding a time machine and being transported back four billion years. What will await you when you step out? No green hills or sandy shores. No white cliffs or dense forests. The young planet bears little resemblance to its equable appearance today. Indeed, the name "Earth" seems a serious misnomer. "Ocean" would suit better, for the whole world is almost completely submerged beneath a deep layer of hot water. No continents divide the scalding seas. Here and there the peak of a mighty volcano thrusts above the surface of the water and belches forth immense clouds of noxious gas. The atmosphere is... see more

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