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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

How does chemistry shape evolution?

When people think of evolution, many reflect on the concept as an operation filled with endless random possibilities–a process that arrives at advantageous traits by chance. But is the course of evolution actually random? In A World from Dust: How the Periodic Table Shaped Life, Ben McFarland argues that an understanding of chemistry can both explain and predict the course of evolution. To understand what he means, we’ve created this slideshow to uncover how the rules of chemistry have influenced many of life’s fundamental processes, and in turn, the course of evolution.

Featured Image Credit: A depiction of the role phosphate and magnesium bonds play in the structure of DNA, in addition to the way Mono Lake’s unique chemistry shapes the elements necessary for life. Illustration by Gala Bent, used with permission.

Recent Comments

  1. Peter Kinnon

    Chemistry does not shape evolution.

    Chemistry, together with.its cohort, geometry IS evolution. At least at all scales within the observed stelliferous era.

    I explore this theme at length in “The Intricacy Generator: Pushing Chemistry and Geometry Uphill”

  2. jan

    abiogenesis has been proven wrong! Millers experiment made some things needed but then also produced things like tar which is toxic to life.

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