Building Blocks of Life

  • Dirk Schulze-Makuch
  • Louis N. Irwin
Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)


Life is based on complex chemistry yet only a few of all the available elements participate in most life-supporting reactions on Earth: carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, phosphorous, and sulfur. Of these, the most characteristic element of biological systems is carbon. In this chapter we will discuss why carbon is so favored by life on Earth and whether other elements could replace carbon in its dominant role on other worlds.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dirk Schulze-Makuch
    • 1
  • Louis N. Irwin
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Astronomy and AstrophysicsTechnical University BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.University of Texas at El PasoEl PasoUSA

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