#AuthorAtHome: Michael Marshall on “The Genesis Quest”
We often think of the New Year as a time for both reflecting on the past and planning new beginnings. So, as we launch into 2021 in earnest, why not ponder one of the most colossal (or rather, microscopic) beginnings in the history of our planet: the origins of life. Some scientists have argued that life began in the chemical-rich seas of the early Earth, the famous primordial soup, while others are convinced that life began in strange vents pumping hot water out of the seafloor, where the chemical reactions that sustain living cells could get started. Or perhaps life began in volcanic ponds on land, or in meteorite impact zones—or even in beds of clay. Each theory has attracted staunch believers who promote it with an almost religious fervor. But our pursuit of life’s origins is more than a tale of bizarre (and sometimes unscientific) investigative zeal: it is a story that takes in some of the greatest discoveries in modern biology, from cells to DNA, and from evolution to life’s family tree. Stretching from 1920s Soviet Russia to the Manhattan Project and the latest discoveries, Michael Marshall’s The Genesis Quest: The Geniuses and Eccentrics on a Journey to Uncover the Origin of Life on Earth is the first full history of the scientists who strive to explain one of the greatest mysteries of all: how and why life began.
Below, enjoy a special #AuthorAtHome introduction to the book from Marshall himself.
Michael Marshall is a science writer interested in life sciences and the environment. He has worked as a staff journalist at New Scientist and the BBC. Since 2017 he has been a freelance writer, published by outlets including BBC Future, the Observer, Nature, New Scientist, and the Telegraph. In 2019 he was shortlisted for News Item of the Year by the Association of British Science Writers. He lives in Devon, UK, with his wife and daughter.