e-ISBN 978-1-4020-8837-7

Library of Congress Control Number: 2008933212 © 2009 Springer Science + Business Media B.V.

No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, microfilming, recording or otherwise, without written permission from the Publisher, with the exception of any material supplied specifically for the purpose of being entered and executed on a computer system, for exclusive use by the purchaser of the work.

Cover illustration:

Upper left: NGC 6188, a dust cloud in Ara OB1 association, which sprawls across the edge of an expanding bubble of gas that could be as much as 300 light years wide. Photo courtesy of Don Goldman.

Upper right:: Solar system montage of Voyager images. Photo courtesy of NASA. Center: JPL. Image # PIA-02973.

Middle left: Hot spring in Yellowstone National Park Lower Geyser Basin White Creek area. Photograph by Maud Walsh

Middle right A spiny acritarch, Meghystrichosphaeridium reticulatum, preserved in 635-551 million year old phosphorite of the Doushantuo Formation at Weng'an in South China. Photograph by Shuahai Xiao.

Photo at the bottom: Intertidal stromatolites in Hamelin Pool, Shark Bay, Western Australia. Courtesy of B.P. Burns and B.A. Neilan (see their chapter in this volume).

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