Protocells offers a comprehensive resource on current attempts to create simple forms of life from scratch in the laboratory. These minimal versions of cells, known as protocells, are entities with lifelike properties created from nonliving materials, and the book provides in-depth investigations of processes at the interface between nonliving and living matter. Chapters by experts in the field put this state-of-the-art research in the context of theory, laboratory work, and computer simulations on the components and properties of protocells. The book also provides perspectives on research in related areas and such broader societal issues as commercial applications and ethical considerations. The book covers all major scientific approaches to creating minimal life, both in the laboratory and in simulation. It emphasizes the bottom-up view of physicists, chemists, and material scientists but also includes the molecular biologists’ top-down approach and the origin-of-life perspective. The capacity to engineer living technology could have an enormous socioeconomic impact and could bring both good and ill. Protocells promises to be the essential reference for research on bottom-up assembly of life and living technology for years to come. It is written to be both resource and inspiration for scientists working in this exciting and important field and a definitive text for the interested layman.
About the Editors
Steen Rasmussen is a Professor in Physics at the University of Southern Denmark, the Director of the Center for Fundamental Living Technologies (FLinT) and an External Research Professor at the Santa Fe Institute New Mexico, USA.
Mark A. Bedau is Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Reed College, Adjunct Professor of Systems Science at Portland State University, and Editor-in-Chief of the MIT Press journal Artificial Life.
Liaohai Chen is a molecular biologist and Group Leader in the Biosciences Division at Argonne National Laboratory and Associate Professor at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago.
David Deamer is Research Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
David C. Krakauer is Research Professor at the Santa Fe Institute.
Norman H. Packard is cofounder and CEO of ProtoLife Srl and an External Research Professor at the Santa Fe Institute.
Peter F. Stadler is Professor of Bioinformatics at the University of Leipzig and an External Research Professor at the Santa Fe Institute.
—Peter Schuster, University of Vienna