Ideas: How The Earth Maintains Life

An intriguing scientific theory continues to win adherents

One of the greatest benefits of the Apollo space program was the image in the rearview mirror as the astronauts rocketed to the moon. It was the first time earthlings could see their home as a whole, and NASA's pictures said with stunning force what neither words nor theories could adequately convey: life has radically transformed this numinous sphere. The heart-stopping beauty of the earth set against the dark void of space earned inventor-scientist James Lovelock the first adherents to a theory that appears to reconcile science and religion in the study of life on earth. Lovelock's idea, named the Gaia...

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