The Origin of Life

A. G. Cairns-Smith - references

Books by A. G. Cairns-Smith

Photographs of these books can be found in the gallery.

Cairns-Smith has recently written some popular science books (which have no connection with the subject of his earlier work):

Relevant papers by A. G. Cairns-Smith (in order of publication date)

  • The origin of life and the nature of the primitive gene, A. G. Cairns-Smith, Journal of Theoretical Biology, 10, 53-88, 1966;

  • An approach to a blueprint for a primitive organism, A. G. Cairns-Smith, in "Towards a Theoretical Biology", I Prolegomena, ed. C. H. Waddington, pp. 57-66. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1968;

  • Formose production by minerals, possible relevance to the origin of life, A. G. Cairns-Smith, Ingram, P. and Walker, G. L., Journal of Theoretical Biology, 35, 601-4, 1972;

  • Primitive metabolsim., A. G. Cairns-Smith, Walker GL. - Curr Mod Biol. 1974 May;5(4):173-86. / Biosystems, 5, 173-86, 1974;

  • The methods of science and the origin of life, A. G. Cairns-Smith, in "The Origin of Life and Evolutionary Biochemistry", ed. K. Dose, S. W. Fox, G. A. Deborin & T. E. Pavlovskaya, pp. 53-8. New York: Plenum, 1974;

  • A case for an alien ancestry, A. G. Cairns-Smith, [Abstract] Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 189, 249-74, 1975;

  • Ambiguity in the interpretation of abiotic syntheses, A. G. Cairns-Smith, Origins of Life, 6, 265-7, 1975;

  • The design of novel replicating polymers, A. G. Cairns-Smith and Davis, C. J., In "The Encyclopaedia of Ignorance: Life Sciences and Earth Sciences", ed. R. Duncan & M. Weston Smith, pp. 391-404. Oxford: Pergamon, 1977;

  • Takeover mechanisms and early biochemical evolution, A. G. Cairns-Smith, BioSystems, 9, 105-9. Also in Origin of Life, ed. H. Noda io, pp 399-404, Tokyo: Center for academic publications, Japan, 1977;

  • Precambrian solution photochemistry, inverse segregation, and banded iron formations, A. G. Cairns-Smith, Nature, 276, 808-809, 1978;

  • Synthetic Life for Industry,, A. G. Cairns-Smith, Duncan R. & Weston-Smith M., eds., "The Encyclopaedia of Ignorance: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Unknown," [1977], Pergamon: Oxford UK, 1978, reprint, p.406);

  • Organisms of the first kind, A. G. Cairns-Smith, Chemistry in Britain, 15, 576-9, 1979;

  • Beginnings of organic evolution, A. G. Cairns-Smith, In "Study of Time", IV, Ed. J. T. Fraser, pp 15-33. New York: Springer Verlag, 1981;

  • The first organisms, A. G. Cairns-Smith, Scientific American, June 1985, 253, 90-98;

  • Unknown, A. G. Cairns-Smith, Chemistry in Britain 1986, 22, 559-561.

  • Search for crystal genes [$PDF$], A. G. Cairns-Smith and P. S. Braterman, Biomedical and Life Sciences and Earth and Environmental Science, Issue Volume 16, Numbers 3-4 / September, 1986;

  • The chemistry of materials for artificial Darwinian systems, A. G. Cairns-Smith, International Revs. Phys. Chem. 1988, volume 7, 209-250.

  • Mineral theories of the origin of life and an iron sulfide example, A. G. Cairns-Smith, A. J. Hall, M. J. Russell, 1992 Origins Life Evol. Bios. 22, 161-180.

  • Unknown, A. G. Cairns-Smith, 1995 Astronomical Society of the Pacific conference Ser. 74, 31-36.

  • Marine hydrothermal systems and the origin of life: future research., A. G. Cairns-Smith, Holm NG, Daniel RM, Ferris JP, Hennet RJ, Shock EL, Simoneit BR, Yanagawa H. - Orig Life Evol Biosph. 1992;22(1-4):181-242.;

  • Layer morphology and growth mechanisms in barium ferrites, G. Turner, B. Stewart, T. Baird, R. D. Peacock and A. G. Cairns-Smith;

  • Chemsoc talk School of Chemistry Lecture Theatre, University of St. Andrews, A. G. Cairns-Smith;

  • The Origin of Life: Clays, A. G. Cairns-Smith, Frontiers of Life, 2001, Volume 1, 169-192, Academic Press, 4-Volume Encyclopaedia edited by David Baltimore, Renato Dulbecco, Francois Jacob and Rita Levi-Montalcini.

    Fine-tuning in living systems: early evolution and the unity of biochemistry. International Journal of Astrobiology 2: 87-90, 2003.

  • Sketches for a Mineral Genetic Material, A. G. Cairns-Smith, 2005, Elements Magazine [PDF] - contains a nice summary of the theory - and is freely available.

  • Issol and “Artificial life”, A. G. Cairns-Smith, 2006, Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres - ISSOL.

  • Chemistry and the Missing Era of Evolution, A. G. Cairns-Smith, 2008, Chemistry. 2008;14(13):3830-9..

A. Graham Cairns-Smith's home page is available [here].

Some of his other papers on mineral matters are among those listed [here].

There's a brief biography of the man [here].

More references

We maintain another page of references to Cairns-Smith's work.


See also: our links page.

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