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By John Barrow, Simon Conway Morris, Stephen Freeland, Charles Harper

Interdisciplinary e-book for scientists attracted to the foundation and life of lifestyles in our universe.

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Extra info for Fitness of the Cosmos for Life. Biochemistry and Fine-Tuning

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It occurred to me suddenly, unexpectedly, and without any preliminary symptoms that I was aware of what I had been looking for in thinking about the fitness of the environment; [it remained] vivid and unforgettable” (1936–9, p. 175). It seemed to come together for him when he saw phosphate systems as very efficient buffers; he pondered the “usefulness of substances” and wondered whether “usefulness was an accident” (p. 177). ” Having grown up in a period dominated by Darwin, he had known nothing of the Bridgewater Treatises (in which natural theology was explored at length by nineteenth-century scientists), and he had not been worried by the introduction of final causes into science.

133). The same buffering that plays such a remarkable role for large airbreathing organisms also preserves the neutrality of the oceans. Henderson pointed out another property of water: its high surface tension, which is substantially higher than that of any other common liquid except mercury. This curious property allows water striders to walk across the surface of ponds or, as a parlor trick, partyers to float a double-edged razor blade in a bowl of water. More important, this property helps water to flow upward, against the force of gravity, in the tiny veins of even tall plants.

73). 1 Locating “fitness” and L. J. Henderson 9 In “Memories,” Henderson looked back and noted that he had questioned whether the role of carbon dioxide and phosphates was somehow linked in retrospect to special properties that made them more appropriate for physiological processes. As noted earlier, he located the moment at which the idea of the reciprocal nature of biological fitness came to him on Washington’s Birthday, 1912: I saw that fitness must be a reciprocal relation, that adaptations in the Darwinian sense must be adaptations to something, and that complexity, stability, and intensity and diversity of metabolism in organisms could not have resulted through adaptation unless there were some sort of pattern in the properties of the environment that, as I now partly knew, is both intricate and singular.

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