Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: April 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963893 | Print ISBN: 9781412958783 | Online ISBN: 9781412963893| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
IN THE EARLY 1960s, scientist James Lovelock was invited by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to participate in a scientific research project aimed at trying to find evidence of life on Mars. His job was to design instruments capable of detecting the presence of life that could be sent on a spacecraft to Mars. This led him to think about what constitutes life, and how it can be detected. This culminated, in 1979, in the publication of his book Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth . His hypothesis was that the Earth itself was a live organism. The term Gaia was borrowed from Greek mythology, where Gaia is the goddess of the Earth. Lovelock's thesis is that the Earth is self-regulating and that the physical and chemical condition of the Earth, as well as the oceans and atmosphere, are kept fit because the Earth, or Gaia, ...