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1. Astrobiology: A Brief Introduction
2. Talking about Life: Conversations
3. Life in Space: Astrobiology for
4. Life in the Universe: Expectations
5. An Introduction to Astrobiology
6. Extrasolar Planets and Astrobiology
7. Astrobiology: A Multi-Disciplinary
8. The Life and Death of Planet Earth:
9. Adaptation to Life at High Salt
10. Red Algae in the Genomic Age (Cellular
11. From Fossils to Astrobiology:
12. Astrobiology, the Origin of Life,
13. Water on Mars and Life (Advances
14. Complete Course in Astrobiology
15. Planetary Systems and the Origins
16. ASTROBIOLOGYPB (Smithsonian's
17. Astrobiology, Comets And the Origin
18. Planets and Life: The Emerging
19. Life in the Universe: From the
20. The Living Universe: NASA and

1. Astrobiology: A Brief Introduction
by Kevin W. Plaxco, Michael Gross
Hardcover: 272 Pages (2006-05-15)
list price: US$65.00 -- used & new: US$43.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0801883660
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Astrobiology -- the study of the intimate relationship between life and the cosmos -- is a fast-growing field that touches on aspects of cosmology, astrophysics, and chemistry. In the first scholarly overview of this dynamic field, biochemists Kevin W. Plaxco and Michael Gross tell the story of life from the Big Bang to the present.

Emphasizing the biochemical nature of astrobiology, Plaxco and Gross examine the origin of the chemical elements, the events behind the developments that made the Universe habitable, and the ongoing sustenance of life. They discuss the formation of the first galaxies and stars, the diverse chemistry of the primordial planet, the origins of metabolism, the evolution of complex organisms, and the feedback regulation of Earth's climate. They also explore life in extreme habitats, potential extraterrestrial habitats, and the search for extraterrestrial life.

This broadly accessible introduction captures the excitement, controversy, and evolution of the dynamic young field of astrobiology. It shows clearly how scientists from different disciplines can combine their special knowledge to enhance our understanding of the Universe.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

3-0 out of 5 stars A fine academic summary for astrobiology
Plaxco and Gross give an expansive coverage for this topic. It is a bit too chemistry-oriented, with formulae of reactions discussed both via text discussions and figures. Also, the sidebars were fascinating, but at the same time distracting from the flow of the text. I think this is not a book for the casual reader, but rather a supplemental to a couse textbook on this topic.

5-0 out of 5 stars Astrobiology by Plaxco & Gross
This is an excellent book; in a field inherently complex they have given sensible prose so the reader can follow the trajectory of an evolving cellular life on earth.Just one example:the Miller-Urey experiment did not resolve all questions, especially the question of prebiotic formation of lipids which derive from the reduction of the carbon-compound sugars.So where did the sugars get reduced?The sugar molecules come from the ocean passing through the elevated temperatures of the planetary crust, "where reduction can be catalyzed by the iron mineral troilite (FeS)".Apparantly, every 8 million years deep sea vents filter the ocean--in geologic time 8 million years is about a week.(page 80-81)The lipids are an important part of cell biology.Heinrich Holland's book The Chemical Evolution of the Atmosphere and Oceans (1984)is extremely technical and by now dated, but still recommended.Plaxco and Gross give updated information.Those early Hadean years and environment gave the groundwork for what was to happen eventually.

5-0 out of 5 stars Superb overview of a key scientific discipline
When I was growing up, the science of extraterrestrial life was called exobiology. This was a difficult area of research since there was no evidence of any subject matter, and the term fell into disrepute. The modern successor is called astrobiology, which may still not be the best name. Anyhow, the idea is to study the possibility of life out there in all its contexts, to look at both the nature of the universe and how life developed and survives here on Earth to see what might be possible.

This book demonstrates the new approach to a "t." After an introductory chapter that attempts to define life, the second chapter, entitled "Origins of a Habitable Universe,"provides the best summary I've ever read of how the universe began and developed in its early stages, leading to how stars form and evolve. The story continues in the third chapter ("Origins of a Habitable Planet"), which covers how the solar system and eventually the Earth formed. The next four chapters start with chemistry and end with biology, going from discussing the basic chemical reactions that might have occurred on the early Earth and trying to work out how this led to life. And, once there was life, how it developed over time into ever more sophisticated and complex creatures, changing its environment along the way, as the invention of photosynthesis led to an atmosphere steeped with caustic oxygen, a nasty substance to early life but essential to the active metabolism of modern animals. The chemistry discussion is the single strongest portion of the book, not too surprising since one of the authors is a chemist.

The final chapters become more topical: extremophiles (life that exists in places you'd think were too nasty to support life), a survey of conceivably habitable areas of our solar system (and beyond), and, finally, the search for extraterrestrial life from the Viking missions (another excellent discussion, this time of the Viking biology experiments and their mixed conclusions) to the Mars meteorite to SETI.

There are maybe half-a-dozen truly great questions in science: How did the universe begin? How did it end? How did life begin? Are we alone? If there's any one science that ties all of these together, it's astrobiology. As our tools grow more sophisticated, and as we grow ever more capable of answering these questions, astrobiology will become ever more significant. Look for headlines worldwide on the day when - as this book predicts - we detect oxygen in the atmosphere of an alien planet, something that (so far as we know) could only be caused by life.

And if you want to be ready for that day, read this book. It covers all the relevant topics in clear and entertaining prose, always remaining comprehensible despite the sometimes arcane issues but never skimping on technical detail. You can read it quickly (as I had to do since it was a library book I'd been slow to get started on) and get the gist of a matter, or take your time to read carefully in order to truly understand what's going on (as I could do only a couple of times).

The copy of this book I have in hand is actually from my local library; however, I want this book by my side for further study and as a reference. I will definitely be buying a copy (if I don't get it for Christmas, that is!). I recommend this book highly to anyone interested in one of the most significant fields of scientific study there is. (Note that I don't give out five stars very often.)

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Book For The Armchair Scientist
Imagine that your best friend were some brilliant world-famous scientist.Now imagine that the two of you were sharing a beer one night, and you carelessly asked the question: "I wonder if there is life elsewhere in the Universe?"

This book would be his answer.

"Astrobiology," by Kevin Plaxco and Michael Gross, is the perfect book for the armchair scientist.It should sit on your bookshelf beside Hawking's "Brief History of Time."It would also be an excellent book for the curious undergraduate.

Plaxco and Gross fill the book with easy, accessible prose, and lots of great science.Best of all, the sidebars, with which the book is liberally sprinkled.They make you feel like you are busy bending an elbow with a scientist that has a wicked sense of humor.After all, how many science books can you think of that use the word `flummoxed'?

If the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" had a chapter on astrobiology, this would be it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Astrobiology: An Attractive Introduction
Biology is not complete without the astro-physical environment that produces the sun, the earth and the building blocks of life.
We can never fully understand life and evolution if we don't include the universe.
At bottom it is ecology extended to the cosmic environment.
A huge eye-opener for me was Barrow & Tippler (1994) The Anthropic Cosmological Principle.
They showed that my biology training was hopelessly incomplete.
A second eye-opener was Tibor Gánti (2003) The Principles of Life.
For the first time in my life I had the feeling that I truly understood what the essence of life is and what the origin of life problem actually is, despite reading many books about the origin of life.
Now we have the science of astrobiology which combines both the universe as a cradle for life and insights into the nature of life.
I have been looking for some time for a suitable introduction into astrobiology until I found
Kevin Plaxco & Michael Gross (2006) Astrobiology: A Brief Introduction.
It is a very attractive book: a pleasure to read, enthusiastically and fluently written, full of relevant information, not loaded with boring details, the right price (indeed there are far more expensive introductions and textbooks).
Despite being an introduction, it is nourishing and thanks to being an introduction it is very digestible.
The book contains many stimulating thoughts and facts. Kevin Plaxco is a professor of chemistry. I think that chemistry
is the right science here: it is in the position to connect biology and astronomy (physics cannot bridge biology and astronomy because it differs too much from biology).
Michael Gross is a science writer. I suspect that a great part of the attractiveness of this book can be ascribed to him.
In the hands of Plaxco and Gross an otherwise boring table of yields of amino acids in the Miller-Urey experiment
becomes fascinating.
The book is richly illustrated with black and white illustrations and photographs (but fortunately no expensive glossy paper is used) and has many interesting sidebars.

... Read more

2. Talking about Life: Conversations on Astrobiology
Hardcover: 418 Pages (2010-09-30)
list price: US$29.99 -- used & new: US$15.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0521514924
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With over 500 planets now known to exist beyond the Solar System, spacecraft heading for Mars, and the ongoing search for extraterrestrial intelligence, this timely book explores current ideas about the search for life in the Universe. It contains candid interviews with dozens of astronomers, geologists, biologists, and writers about the origin and range of terrestrial life and likely sites for life beyond Earth. The interviewees discuss what we've learnt from the missions to Mars and Titan, talk about the search for Earth clones, describe the surprising diversity of life on Earth, speculate about post-biological evolution, and explore what contact with intelligent aliens will mean to us. Covering topics from astronomy and planetary science to geology and biology, this book will fascinate anyone who has ever wondered 'Are we alone?' ... Read more

3. Life in Space: Astrobiology for Everyone
by Dr. Lucas John Mix
Hardcover: 344 Pages (2009-03-31)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$20.65
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Asin: 0674033213
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Life is a property of the universe. We may not know how it began or where else it exists, but we have come to know a great deal about how it relates to stars, planets, and the larger cosmos. In clear and compelling terms, this book shows how the emerging field of astrobiology investigates the nature of life in space. How did life begin? How common is it? Where do we fit in? These are the important questions that astrobiology seeks to answer.

A truly interdisciplinary endeavor, astrobiology looks at the evidence of astronomy, biology, physics, chemistry, and a host of other fields. A grand narrative emerges, beginning from the smallest, most common particles yet producing amazing complexity and order. Lucas Mix is a congenial guide through the depths of astrobiology, exploring how the presence of planets around other stars affects our knowledge of our own; how water, carbon, and electrons interact to form life as we know it; and how the processes of evolution and entropy act upon every living thing.

This book also reveals that our understanding and our context are deeply intertwined. It shows how much astrobiology can tell us about who we are—as a planet, as a species, and as individuals.

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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Brave new world, well explained
Although the author's primary field of expertise is biology, he has an amazing grasp of the various disciplines which must be applied to an understanding of astrobiology.Throughout this extremely well-written book, which covers a varied and highly complex number of topics, he explains each with a skill which allows the novice in any of the fields to gain an understanding of the emerging field of astrobiology.He emphasizes that the only knowledge we have of `life in space' is that of our own planet, Earth.He explores the complexities of earth (terrean) life to the fullest, all of the physical conditions under which it may arise and develop, and how how the chemical and biological processes of terrean life `work'.In examining other parts of the universe which might hold life, the exoplanets, his examination of them naturally uses the only criteria available where life has arisen, namely those of our own."Life as we know it" is a repeated emphasis of the book, but he puts a compelling case for that being the standard which must be used.If those conditions can be found elsewhere, it is likely that life will emerge in that place, if it has not already.Perhaps the main subtheme of this work is the question "What is life?", a most elusive and exciting question which the author handles with patience and grace.Although the chemistry, well explained, might leave a reader without some chemical background a bit confused, it in no way detracts from the overall accomplishment.An excellent book, which I recommend to anyone who wishes to discover an emerging field of study, at the ground-floor level of its existence.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting
I have not finished this book, so I may come back and change this review, but so far it is pretty good. Nothing ground breaking, but an interesting read. This is probably good as an introduction book for the beginner. If you are at all interested in the subject, I would recommend picking this up. ... Read more

4. Life in the Universe: Expectations and Constraints (Advances in Astrobiology and Biogeophysics)
by Dirk Schulze-Makuch, Louis N. Irwin
Hardcover: 252 Pages (2008-11-17)
list price: US$59.95 -- used & new: US$39.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 3540768165
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Examines each of these parameters in crucial depth and makes the argument that life forms we would recognize may be more common in our solar system than many assume.

Considers exotic forms of life that would not have to rely on carbon as the basic chemical element, solar energy as the main energy source, or water as the primary solvent and the question of detecting bio- and geosignatures of such life forms, ranging from earth environments to deep space.

Seeks an operational definition of life and investigate the realm of possibilities that nature offers to realize this very special state of matter.

Avoids scientific jargon wherever possible to make this intrinsically interdisciplinary subject understandable to a broad range of readers.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Useful insights on the potential for life elsewhere
This is not a comprehensive astrobiology text.Instead, it pursues a few key topics to a depth rarely found in other works.These include the definition of life, lessons from the history of life on Earth, possible sources for life, the importance of carbon as opposed to silicon, alternatives to water as a solvent, and signatures of life.It's well worth reading for anyone who is interested in the topic. ... Read more

5. An Introduction to Astrobiology
Paperback: 364 Pages (2004-05-24)
list price: US$72.00 -- used & new: US$45.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0521546214
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Compiled by a team of experts, this textbook has been designed for elementary university courses in astrobiology. It begins with an examination of how life may have arisen on Earth and then reviews the evidence for possible life on Mars, Europa and Titan. The potential for life in exoplanetary systems and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence are also discussed. The text contains numerous useful learning features such as boxed summaries, student exercises with full solutions, and a glossary of terms. It is also supported by a website hosting further teaching materials. Written in an accessible style that avoids complex mathematics, this book is suitable for self-study and will appeal to amateur enthusiasts as well as undergraduate students. It contains numerous helpful learning features such as boxed summaries, student exercises with full solutions, and a glossary of terms.The book is also supported by a webstite hosting further teaching materials. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Introduction into Astrobiology
Twenty-five years ago the study of astrobiology was quite "fringe". Much has occurred since then, as technology has continually improved and we have taken further, somewhat less tentative steps off this planet. We now have claims of life in a Martian meteorite (not yet accepted), the discovery of over 400 exoplanets to-date (and counting), and interesting possibilities for possible life that may yet be found on Mars (under the surface), Europa (in a putative ocean) and possibly on Titan (assuming life could adapt to the extreme cold there).

This book by Gilmour and Sephton presents the study of Astrobiology in a very straightforward and concise way, offering the reader an introductory look into this burdgeoning area of study. In particular, the textbook includes (a) early chapters on the origin of life and on habitability (ie., in "water" zones about planets and otherwise based on other mechanisms about planetary satellites), and (b) a great overview of Earth's extremeophiles. The textbook includes expanded chapters on Mars, Europa and Titan, where the authors go into greater detail on the possibilities for life on these bodies. The book concludes with chapters devoted to the potentiality of life on exoplanets, including yet-to-be-discovered exo-Earths.

I read the Gilmour text alongside three other books on this subject - (a) "The Living Cosmos" by Chris Impey, (b) "Astrobiology: A Multidisciplinary Approach" by Jonathan Lunine, and (c) "Looking for Life: Searching the Solar System" by Clancy et. al. The Gilmour and Lunine books would - in my view - be properly classed as true "textbooks" on this subject, while the Impey and Clancy books are presented as more general reading. The Gilmour text is the best introductory textbook to the subject of astrobiology that I have found, and assumes the reader is just starting into the area with limited knowledge. For even greater detail (in a textbook), one can then move on (after Gilmour) to the Lunine text which gives far greater detail, although you will hate all the typos in it.

The two other books cited are great expositions of the area in and of themselves, but are presented in a less formal way. Both have been prepared by persons directly involved in the area and both are extremely well-written and a joy to read. These latter books are packed with up-to-date information and indeed go deeper than the Gilmour text does. As such, the latter two references are most easily read for general interest, enjoyment and overview, while the Gilmour text is best used as a clear and concise "textbook" source that organizes all the materials in an introductory and very cogent way.

I am sure there are many other texts and sources on their way vis a vis this area, but if you are just starting out, the Gilmour textbook is a good introductory textbook, while the Impey and Clancy books are great reads for people interested in a less formalistic presentation. All four books will give you a good "introductory library" into the field of astrobiology. Enjoy.

5-0 out of 5 stars More astro than biology
This is an excellent textbook, with straightforward problems ... and answers!There's plenty of solid material here and very little fluff.The information is well presented, up-to-date, and easy to read.

Three of the nine chapters are about the potential for life elsewhere in our planetary system, in particular on Mars, Europa, and Titan.Another three chapters are on extrasolar planets: how to find them, what we've discovered so far about them, and what signatures of life we might try to look for on them in the future.There's also a chapter on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).That leaves two chapters for the definition and origin of life, the Earth's acquisition of the necessary water and carbon, and so on.I'd prefer to see quite a bit more on biology here.I'd like to see much more discussion of the development of multicellular life, the changes in the Earth's environment caused by the production of oxygen, and the evolution of humans.

That said, I really liked the chapter on the origin of life.It was illuminating to read about the origin of chirality, written by a specialist in organic matter in meteorites.And I also especially liked the chapters on exoplanets.

... Read more

6. Extrasolar Planets and Astrobiology
by Caleb A. Scharf
Hardcover: 490 Pages (2008-08-14)
list price: US$86.50 -- used & new: US$81.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1891389556
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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This book offers an advanced introduction to the increasingly robust fields of extrasolar planets and astrobiology. No other text currently available applies this level of mathematics and physics, while also providing an extensive grounding in key issues of chemistry, biology, and geophysics. With extensive references to the literature and chapter-ending exercises, this book can be used as the core text for teaching undergraduate or introductory graduate level courses. The text will also provide astrobiologists with an indispensable "User's Manual" when quick reference to key mathematical and physical techniques is needed. A continually updated online component, fully cross referenced with the text, is also available. Foreword by Geoff Marcy. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Review of Extrasolar Planets and Astrobiology Caleb A. Sharf
This is a good open-minded, open-ended look at a topic that is now coming of age. Using a sound technical, multi-disiplined approach Scharf has managed to investigate this subject without drawing premature conclusions or venturing groundless hypotheses based on prejudicial thinking. It is a book that will make you think.

This book is quite readable for a college edjucated amature astronomer or other science/astronomy-savvy individual at home or as a college text that would not be out of place at MIT or CALTECH.

A little warning though, Scarf does like his math and physics(which are quite in order in this work) so if you are a little rusty in these subjects it may be good to bone up a little.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best. Text. Ever.
The textbook is well sourced, well written, and incredibly well organized.As a astronomy and biology student wishing to understand the unification of these two rather different approaches to science, this is invaluable and MUCH appreciated.

Students sometimes don't realize that textbooks are not confusing because of their subject material, but usually very opaque because of their ORGANIZATION.

Scharf's organization of the material and presentation is nonpareil, and what's more, this is the only text currently available (I have read every one), that contains a physical, mathematically based derivation and demonstration of the sciences at work.

This is incredibly important as Astrobiology becomes a denser field with more and more concepts piling atop one another.Presenting the grounding of the subject in the basic sciences, not as abstract musings but as truly observationally based science, is perhaps the author's greatest success.

In the world of science textbooks, which I believe is all too often a graveyard where students' love of science goes to die, this text stands amongst the few which will not only encourage your understanding of its chosen topic, but will cause you to want to expand it.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Resource
I am an Astrophysics major who had the pleasure of taking the author's course on this subject. You will find this to be a detailed, thorough, and quantitative introduction to the field, as well as engaging and accessible. A must have for any student interested in extrasolar planets or astrobiology.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This is far and away the most comprehensive book on the market covering extra-solar planets.It is both rigorous and easy to follow, no small feat for such a new textbook about a young field.I highly recommend it to higher level undergraduates interested in learning more about everything from T Tauri stars and protoplanetary disks to extremeophiles.Keep in mind, this book is written by an astrophysicist, not a biologist. ... Read more

7. Astrobiology: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach
by Jonathan Lunine
Paperback: 450 Pages (2004-08-23)
list price: US$89.40 -- used & new: US$120.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805380426
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Astrobiology: A Multidisciplinary Approach is the most comprehensive textbook available for emerging upper-level courses in astrobiology. Internationally renowned authority Jonathan Lunine gives students with a variety of backgrounds a solid foundation in the essential concepts of physics, chemistry, biology, and other relevant sciences to help them achieve a well-rounded understanding of the fascinating study of the origin of life, planetary evolution, and life in the cosmos. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars A brilliant and comprehensive exposure of the fascinating field of Astrobiology.
Not only is Lunine a brilliant astrobiologist but his book, represents and absolutely fantastic read. For a well educated general audience as well as for the already initiated astrobiologist, Lunine offers a brilliant and comprehensive exposure of the most current ideas in the fascinating field of Astrobiology. I highly recommend it.Ihrenes 2006.

4-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant but demanding overview of a new field
This astrobiology textbook is brilliant but demanding -- not everyone, even science fans, wants to know this much about life in the universe! Lunine describes his book as "a comprehensive treatment of astrobiology for upper level undergraduate students and beginning graduate students". The book is also targeted at senior scientists who want an introduction to this new discipline. The resulting volume of 586 densely packed pages is a tour de force of basic physics and chemistry as well as biology and planetary science. The first half the book leads the reader through the fundamentals of physics, biochemistry, and microbiology essential to understanding the origin of life. The second half covers life on Earth, the habitability of Mars, Europa and Titan, other planetary systems, the co-evolution of life and its host planet, and the evolution of intelligence. The mostly monochrome illustrations are well selected, but printing quality occasionally lapses -- the only reason I rate this book four stars and not five.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best astrobiology textbook on the market now
Astrobiology is a relatively new science.Not completely new: I've been reading astrobiology books since the 1960s.But only recently have some fairly decent astrobiology textbooks been written that picture a core of topics needed to cover the subject.These include the definition, nature, and origin of life; the development of life on Earth, the mass extinctions on Earth; possibilities of life elsewhere in the planetary system, possibilities for life to survive in outer space; changes to the Earth's environment brought about by life; the nature and evolution of consciousness and intelligent life; detection of extrasolar planets; and signatures of extraterrestrial life.They also include some astronomy: formation of galaxies, habitable galaxies and habitable portions of galaxies, formation of stars and planets in these galaxies, migration of planets, statistics on deadly collisions of big objects with potentially life-bearing planets, and the significance of risks to life such as supernovae and gamma ray bursters.

So far, no book is ideal in covering all these topics for upper division college students.But I think this one comes closest.

Since this book might be read by those who know plenty of astronomy but not much biology, or by those who know biology but not astronomy, the book begins with some needed background: fundamentals of physics, physical chemistry, and biochemistry.It then gets into the question of how the elements we're made of were synthesized in the first place.And it shows that our Universe is fairly well suited for life, even if not completely ideal.

Then we get into an important topic, the thermodynamic foundations of life.The book makes the point that one always has to be aware of the energetics of life: life needs energy, so where does that energy come from?In addition, life requires a low entropy state.Such states are not all that hard to come by, but one must know how one is achieved.And life implies a high information content.Again, one must know how to measure that content and decide where it has come from.The author makes the point that given sufficient free energy, systems not in equilibrium will exhibit self-organizing and self-complexifying properties.I found this fascinating.It was almost as though the Purpose of Life were to reduce carbon dioxide, and life were merely a side-effect of catalyzing this reaction.

Next there is a fascinating discussion of how life might have evolved.Did we start with replicators, cell boundaries, substrates, or proteins, or a little of all of them?Was there an "RNA world" before the "DNA world?"And a "TNA" or "PNA" (peptide nucleic acid) world before that?Can we have autocatalysis without replication?

After that comes a discussion of extreme environments, given that life's last common ancestor may well have been an extremophile.And then we learn about the faint early Sun, a carbon dioxide greenhouse effect on Earth, the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere, and a possible "snowball Earth." We read about possibilities of life elsewhere in our planetary system: Europa, Titan, and Mars.And we find out about techniques for discovering extraterrestrial signatures of life.There's a very good and up-to-date section on extrasolar planets.

The textbook ends with a little material on the nature of self-awareness and on future prospects for the human species and civilization.I think it is an excellent text. ... Read more

8. The Life and Death of Planet Earth: How the New Science of Astrobiology Charts the Ultimate Fate of Our World
by Peter D. Ward, Donald Brownlee
Paperback: 256 Pages (2004-01-01)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$6.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805075127
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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“They deftly bring together findings from many disparate areas of science in a book that science buffs will find hard to put down.” —Publishers Weekly

Science has worked hard to piece together the story of the evolution of our world up to this point, but only recently have we developed the understanding and the tools to describe the entire life cycle of our planet. Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee, a geologist and an astronomer respectively, are in the vanguard of the new field of astrobiology. Combining their knowledge of how the critical sustaining systems of our planet evolve through time with their understanding of how stars and solar systems grow and change throughout their own life cycles, the authors tell the story of the second half of Earth’s life. In this masterful melding of groundbreaking research and captivating, eloquent science writing, Ward and Brownlee provide a comprehensive portrait of Earth’s life cycle that allows us to understand and appreciate how the planet sustains itself today, and offers us a glimpse of our place in the cosmic order.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (29)

5-0 out of 5 stars All good things must come to an end
Although this book has been billed as a sequel to `Rare Earth', it nicely summarizes the information in that book before delving into its distant future prognostications. It is probably best read first as an overview. Like `Rare Earth', it inspires the reader with awe for how many things had to go right for us to exist as well as a humbling sense of perspective on the human experience. Also like `Rare Earth', the book suffers from a lack of imagination in places, particularly an underestimation of the ingenuity of organic evolution given the timescales involved (in their defence, this is a problem for anyone bold enough to extrapolate so far from the present and they confess as much).

I do agree with their assessment that the human species (assuming we survive even that long) is unlikely to escape the coming solar inferno given the physical barriers to interstellar travel and the unlikelihood of stumbling across another planet suitable for long term habitation. We were forged by the earth and we will share in its fate. One cannot come away from this book without gaining a deeper reverence for our celestial home. Staring into the abyss isn't for everyone, but I find it makes me all the more appreciative of the time that we have. This book succeeds on that level.

5-0 out of 5 stars Well worth the money
If you have read any of Ward's books this is a good one to get.Just the right blend of technical detail and more laid back converstaional styl.Highly recommend it for those curious about the stages of life for planet Earth.

5-0 out of 5 stars A real gem for the thinking reader.
Obviously this book is fairly short and not completely comprehensive. When I first took a look at it I was skeptical. However, it turns out this is a real gem if you like to think about big issues. This book basically covers what will happen to the earth as a planet over the rest of its lifetime, often using examples from earth's past as evidence for what could happen in the future. Of course as the authors admit, a lot of this is guesswork, but the point of the book isn't to give an accurate prediction of exactly when, hundreds of millions of years from now, life will die off. With that in mind, you will really enjoy this book. It is full off all kinds of little tidbits of information to think about and ideas that will almost certainly make you say, "I never knew that" or "I never thought about it like that before." This book really isn't about global warming or any other environmental issue. A few oblique comments are made regarding climate and environment, but that's not at all the point of this book. However, if you are one of those people who think about past conditions when considering current climate discussions, this book may have some answers or perspectives for you. Anyway, among other things, the authors of this book discuss when they think the planet may get to the point of not being able to sustain different kinds of life, when the oceans might dissappear, when the sun may expand and what it will mean, what prospects life or a heritage of life might have of escaping all this and so on. I think one of the most suprising assertions for me was the idea that life on earth may be closer to the end than the beginning in terms of geological time. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book. It's the type of book that will inspire you to read more on a number of topics.

2-0 out of 5 stars Mediocre
I recently came upon two other books by Mr. Ward in a discount bookstore, and, prodded, by their subject matters, decided to give both a chance. The first book was published in 2002, and was co-authored with a Donald Brownlee. It is called The Life And Death Of Planet Earth: How The New Science Of Astrobiology Charts The Ultimate Fate Of Our World, and is a followup to the duo's earlierRare Earth. The second book is 2005's Life As We Do Not Know It: The NASA Search For (And Synthesis Of) Alien Life.

On the positive side, both books are better works than Gorgon. On the negative side, neither are, in any way, shape nor form, first class books of science, although both books fail for different reasons. That stated, let me just comment on a problem many science books have, and that is their lengthy subtitles. Most are simply pretentious, and as is the case with the second book, was the parenthetical really necessary, especially considering that NASA's search for alien life really has little to do with ward's book, which is more or less Ward's own pat on the back for believing he has come up with new ideas and classifications for life on earth, even though he has not, to this time, offered his `research' up to peer review; instead trying to gain public acclamation for his ideas, so many of which are retreads from not only earlier speculations by scientists, but from science fiction writers as early as the 1930s. This seems to be a recurring problem in Ward's books- his own overweening belief in his scientific knowledge, and a narcissism devoted to his own existence above the science he examines.

Fortunately, while that infects a good deal of Life As We Do Not Know It, it is far less recurrent in his co-authored text, The Life And Death Of Planet Earth. Still, even that book has some manifest flaws. Chief among them is the reliance on one of the oldest logical fallacies- that being the Fallacy of Uninterrupted Trends. While this may be a necessity for science fiction, for science fact, it's inexcusable. The idea behind Ward's and Brownlee's book is that life on earth- at least complex life, has only a few hundred million years to go, at best, before the earth slowly reverts, over the next five to seven billion years, to former states it had during its infancy, with bacterial life being the last thing remaining, as the sun becomes a red giant and burns earth to a cinder. In short, while the physical mass of the planet is still less than half its eventual age, life as we know it is in senescence

These predictions are based upon supposed `known facts,' which they see as rising levels of certain gases in the earth's atmosphere, and an increase in the brightness of the sun. Yet, the patterns of star development are still in their infancy, and life, more complex than it was in the past (although the duo gives some arguments against that- complexity in terms of diversity vs. in terms of individuals and species), also seems to exhibit a greater stranglehold over the biosphere than was previously thought. By its nature, evolution is unpredictable, so how future life might evolve- especially if aided by our superhuman descendents, to cope with such changes is a crapshoot, at best. In short, the arguments used by Ward and Brownlee are akin to reading an ancient text claiming that the moon will never be reached.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read....
"The Rare Earth" is, along with Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel," one of the two or three most interesting books I have ever read."The Life and Death of the Planet Earth" is a fascinating compliment to The Rare Earth" that makes you feel like you were in a dark room of ignorance about life and the cycle of life on earth and then someone turned on the lights and you look around and suddenly it all makes sense.As a non-scientist (lawyer) I found the book immensely enlightening and easily readable.I would not only highly recommend this book, I think it should be mandatory reading, along with "The Rare Earth," for every high school student everywhere.Truly an enjoyable and rewarding read. ... Read more

9. Adaptation to Life at High Salt Concentrations in Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya (Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology)
 Paperback: 577 Pages (2010-11-30)
list price: US$279.00 -- used & new: US$230.60
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Asin: 9048169143
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This book intends to provide an overview of current research on halophilic microorganisms, highlighting the diversity of life forms adapted to tolerate high salt concentrations and low water activities. Most of the 35 chapters are based on lectures presented during the international symposium "Halophiles 2004", held in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in September 2004. Descriptions of the diverse high-salt environments in which halophiles are found are followed by sections devoted to the properties of halophilic Archaea, of halophilic and halotolerant Bacteria, and of different groups of salt-loving Eukarya, including fungi, algae and protozoa. Extensive information is provided about fungi adapted to life at high salt concentrations, a group that was poorly known until very recently. This volume is intended for researchers and students interested in a wide range of disciplines in the life sciences: from microbial ecology and adaptation of microorganisms to life in extreme environments to genomics, biotechnology, and astrobiology.

... Read more

10. Red Algae in the Genomic Age (Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology)
Hardcover: 498 Pages (2010-08-03)
list price: US$209.00 -- used & new: US$165.87
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Asin: 9048137942
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This volume covers the modern biology and the speciation of the red algae (Rhodophyta) from unicellular Cyanidia up to macrocellular sea weeds. A team of peer reviewers has reviewed all chapters. The chapters describe a range of topics from cave algae from Atacama, Chile, to genomes of red algae. Some chapters deal with the carbohydrates, physiological mechanisms, and realtionship between red algae and neurodegenerative disease. Other chapters deal with organellar - nuclear genes and taxonomic revision. Emphasis is placed upon the rhodophytan chloroplast, its origin, evolution, division machinery and pigmentation. The reader will find in this book lots of new information on the red algae.

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11. From Fossils to Astrobiology: Records of Life on Earth and the Search for Extraterrestrial Biosignatures (Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology)
Hardcover: 548 Pages (2008-12-08)
list price: US$299.00 -- used & new: US$219.30
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Asin: 1402088361
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From Fossils to Astrobiology reviews developments in paleontology and geobiology that relate to the rapidly-developing field of Astrobiology, the study of life in the Universe. Many traditional areas of scientific study, including astronomy, chemistry and planetary science, contribute to Astrobiology, but the study of the record of life on planet Earth is critical in guiding investigations in the rest of the cosmos.  In this varied book, expert scientists from 15 countries present peer-reviewed, stimulating reviews of paleontological and astrobiological studies.  The overviews of established and emerging techniques for studying modern and ancient microorganisms on Earth and beyond, will be valuable guides to evaluating biosignatures which could be found in the extraterrestrial surface or subsurface within the Solar System and beyond.  This volume also provides discussion on the controversial reports of "nanobacteria" in the Martian meteorite ALH84001.  It is a unique volume among Astrobiology monographs in focusing on fossil evidence from the geological record and will be valuable to students and researchers alike. ... Read more

12. Astrobiology, the Origin of Life, and the Death of Darwinism (2nd Edition)
by Rhawn Joseph
Paperback: 370 Pages (2001-05)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$75.00
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Asin: 0970073380
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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The Origin of Life: The Earth is an island, swirling in an ocean of space, and life has been washing ashore since the creation.

Cosmic collisions are commonplace, not only between meteors and planets, but entire galaxies, and life has been repeatedly tossed into the abyss... only to land on other planets.

The genetic seeds of life swarm throughout the cosmos, and these "genetic seeds," these living creatures, fell to Earth encased in stellar debris which pounded the planet for 700 million years after the creation. And these "seeds" contained the DNA instructions for the metamorphosis of all life, including woman and man.

DNA acts to purposefully modify the environment, which acts on gene selection, to fulfill specific genetic goals: the dispersal and activation of silent DNA, and the replication of life forms that long ago lived on other planets. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (34)

5-0 out of 5 stars This Will Blow your mind!
This Will Blow your mind!
I first read it 10 years ago and the ideas he put forth are being confirmed more and more every day!

4-0 out of 5 stars A man so brilliant should have known better.
I was asked by a colleague to review this book by Rhawn Joseph, Ph.D. Dr. Joseph has done some amazing work in his life- but this book is not an example. From the very start, Dr. Joseph disregards proven and testable scientific hypothesis, especially Natural selection, and instead promotes his, as of yet unproven idea, that the cosmos is filled with- not just the basic building blocks of life- but actual life itself. As a Neurobiologist, albeit a brilliant one, Dr. Joseph may indeed have some insights to astrobiology - but he seems to show little understanding, much less toleration, of the basic laws of physics which are replete throughout the universe. If one did not know better, they might think they were reading work by people the likes of Stichin or perhaps even Velikovsky. This book is an excellent example, as is the book by Velikovsky titled Worlds in Collision, of what can happen when people, regardless of their brilliance, attempt to prove their beliefs in a scientific stage on which they are untrained. Although his work and writing on Mind-Brain topics are brilliant, this book, at least in my opinion, is nothing more than a thinly viewed attempt at creationism targeted for the scientifically illiterate. Still I rate this book a 4 out of 5 because Dr. Joseph makes the reader stop- just long enough to ask themselves what do they really know? Perhaps that was his intention.

Dr. W. Sumner Davis
Author of Miracles, Just Smoke & Mirrors, and HERETICS

3-0 out of 5 stars Pseudo-science or not?
Another reviewer claims that you will either love this book or hate it; there is no in-between.I'm inclined to agree with that assessment.The author borrows concepts of panspermia (life originating in outer space) from Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, which I really did not find convincing, and I've also read Hoyle's "The Intelligent Universe."However, he does make good points about the so-called 'primordial soup' that scientists speak of when discussing the origin of life.

While it might be premature to speak of the death of Darwinism, the theory really does not answer many questions that it should. My general complaint against evolution is Darwin's interpretation of the evidence, not the evidence itself.I found some of Dr. Joseph's conclusions far-fetched, and rather than this book I would easily recommend anything by Jonathan Wells, Lee Strobel, or Michael Behe.

5-0 out of 5 stars Finally, An understanding of Evolution.Well worth your effort
This is not an easy book to read.I read all the reviews before reading it myself.I understand why some are turned off by some of its claims.But the meat of this book is how evolution works and should open even its critics minds.I have no doubt that in future years the Author will be applauded by his peers for a wonderful insight into the workings of RNA, DNA, Genes and life.

After only a few pages I was hooked and craving to know more. He may be wrong as to how life started, but he definitely knows his stuff when it comes to how life evolved.His puncing holes in the universal "Out of Africa" beliefs will Whet your appetite to know more.

2-0 out of 5 stars not even science fiction; pseudo-science
The theories presented in this book are not only baseless and poorly presented, but also a tragic step in the wrong direction for the infant science of Astrobiology. The author should clearly have stuck to neuro-science, because his lack of understanding in the fields of biology, Archaeology and espescially Astronomy are overwhelming and frustrating throughout the book. I say this book is a step in the wrong direction because it might mislead people seeking to gain real knowledge about the subject into false and ridiculous ideas. In addition, Joseph comes off as more biased and defensive than even the Rare Earth scientists do. This book is not a total waste of money as there are many ideas within it that are at least worth debating. Yet, I would not recomend it as an introductory work to the field, rather I would recomend it as food for thought to an educated reader. Joseph must refrain from his one sided arguments, UFO stories, and seemingly emotional outbursts if he wants to be taken seriously by scientists. ... Read more

13. Water on Mars and Life (Advances in Astrobiology and Biogeophysics)
Hardcover: 332 Pages (2004-11-18)
list price: US$139.00 -- used & new: US$96.29
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Asin: 3540206248
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Growing evidence, based on observations from orbiters, landers and telescopes, indicates that Mars may still have numerous hidden water reservoirs. Moreover, from the point of view of habitability, Mars is a prime target for astrobiologists in search of extant or extinct microbial life because we know that life exists in earth?s permafrost regions, such as parts of Siberia and the Antarctic, which are the closest terrestrial analogues to Mars. ... Read more

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5-0 out of 5 stars A collection of papers on a fascinating topic
In the past month, more and more of us have begun to believe that liquid water has indeed flowed on the Martian surface at least once or twice in the past decade.

Well, what does all this mean about the past and present reservoirs of water on Mars?Could it be that Mars once supported life?Could it do so now?

While the findings from the past couple of years are too recent to be included in this book, I think this volume does put many of these questions into proper perspective.

We start with the history of water on Mars.That includes what we think we're learning from meteorites (we'd probably know much more if we had some sample return data). It also covers questions of atmospheric evolution (which certainly pertain to the question of whether subsurface water-ice-reservoirs exist at present there), analogies between conditions from which early life probably arose on Earth and conditions on ancient Mars, and hydrated minerals on Mars.

Next is a section on water reservoirs on Mars at present.This includes a discussion of the global distribution of subsurface water as measured by Mars Odyssey, an article on polar caps, a paper on ground ice in the Martian regolith, and a paper by the editor about the water cycle in the atmosphere and shallow subsurface.The conclusion here is that the seemingly tiny amount of atmospheric water (only a trillion kilograms) is still enough to account for observed Martian gullies.

The final section is about aqueous environments and the implications for life.It starts by asking about the potential for evidence of life on Mars that might be preserved in sediments and mineral precipitations associated with polar lakes, streams and springs.The next question to be addressed is whether ancient (and recent) lakes on Mars could have been possible habitats for life (or be the last oases of life there at present).After that comes a paper on impact craters, water, and microbial life.Impacts can cause water to be trapped in not only in craters but in fractures of shocked rocks.

If life did exist on Mars (or still exists there), is it in salty water?Quite possibly it is, and we can read about it in the penultimate paper on microbial life in brines, evaporites, and saline sediments.While the Viking mission experiments failed to detect any life on Mars, those missions did not, of course, examine any regions where there was liquid water.

The final paper is about the lessons for Mars exploration that we can derive from the microbiology of deep-sea hydrothermal vents. As evidence gets stronger that life on Earth may have arisen in or near such vents, the question of whether such vents also existed on Mars becomes more interesting.

I recommend this book.
... Read more

14. Complete Course in Astrobiology (Physics Textbook)
Paperback: 434 Pages (2007-04-23)
list price: US$100.00 -- used & new: US$78.22
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Asin: 3527406603
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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This up-to-date resource is based on lectures developed by experts in the relevant fields and carefully edited by the leading astrobiologists within the European community. Aimed at graduate students in physics, astronomy and biology and their lecturers, the text begins with a general introduction to astrobiology, followed by sections on basic prebiotic chemistry, extremophiles, and habitability in our solar system and beyond. A discussion of astrodynamics leads to a look at experimental facilities and instrumentation for space experiments and, ultimately, astrobiology missions, backed in each case by the latest research results from this fascinating field. Includes a CD-ROM with additional course material. ... Read more

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5-0 out of 5 stars A Text on a Brand New Science
This is a book on a science that just a very few years ago did not exist. Only in fairly recent times have we begun to look at things like prebiotic chemistry (things like amino acids that are the precursors of life), extremophiles (things living at the extremes of environment like the hot vents in the deep ocean), and habitability in our solar system (especially the search for signs of life on Mars and the search for water everywhere).

This book, intended for graduate students was produced in Germany and is written by a series of experts, all European except one from JPL. Together they have produced a text, suitable for graduate student use that is as current as it is possible to be. It included current theory, a description of recent space missions and a description of planned future missions.

The CD included with the book provides for additionalmaterials and PowerPoint slides to go with the lectures. ... Read more

15. Planetary Systems and the Origins of Life (Cambridge Astrobiology)
Hardcover: 334 Pages (2007-12-24)
list price: US$121.00 -- used & new: US$30.98
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Asin: 052187548X
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Several major breakthroughs in the last decade have helped contribute to the emerging field of astrobiology. Focusing on these developments, this fascinating book explores some of the most important problems in this field. It examines how planetary systems formed, and how water and the biomolecules necessary for life were produced. It then focuses on how life may have originated and evolved on Earth. Building on these two themes, the final section takes the reader on a search for life elsewhere in the Solar System. It presents the latest results of missions to Mars and Titan, and explores the possibilities of life in the ice-covered ocean of Europa. This interdisciplinary book is an enjoyable overview of this exciting field for students and researchers in astrophysics, planetary science, geosciences, biochemistry, and evolutionary biology. Colour versions of some of the figures are available at www.cambridge.org/9780521875486. ... Read more

16. ASTROBIOLOGYPB (Smithsonian's Natural World Series)
by Grady M
Paperback: 112 Pages (2001-03-17)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$43.99
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Asin: 1560988495
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The Question of whether we are alone in the universe isone that has fascinated humankind since early times.But, as CarlSagan once said, "The search for extraterrestrial life must begin withthe question of what we mean by life."Astrobiologists today focus onthe origins of the earliest and simplest life forms, bacteria andother single-celled organisms.Using Earth as a prototypicalenvironment, they and other scientists tackle the question of life inthe universe.

Beginning with the Big Bang and formation of the universe, this richlyillustrated book discusses the emergence of life on Earth and beyond.Monica Grady discusses the factors necessary for the development ofmicroorganisms on Earth, including chemical building blocks likecarbon and water as well as an atmosphere that protects fromultraviolet radiation.She considers the possibility of life on otherplanets in the solar system, describing the conditions and diversehabitats that make Mars as well as some of Jupiter's and Saturn'smoons ideal candidates for research.In a final chapter she looksbeyond the solar system, searching for Earth-like planets or dustydisks of preplanetary material surrounding stars.

Beginning to answer the question "Are we alone" Astrobiologysummarizes what is known and can be extrapolated from our studies ofEarth, the solar system, and the galaxy. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars A most intruiging discussion
I'm sure had I read the book I'd think it was stellar.

3-0 out of 5 stars Safe & Satisfying
This is one of eight books on Astrobiology which were rushed out after the publication of Joseph's revolutionary and ground breaking text, in May of 2000. Like the other seven competing volumes, this text differs from Joseph's, in that it strictly holds to the "party" line, as approved by the United States government, and repeats, without any critical analysis, mainstream scientific dogma. It you are interested in a very short book, with admittedly, amazing pictures, that provides a "safe" and "politically correct" and very brief overview of standard mainstream scientific dogma,then this is the book for you.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Brief But Wonderful Little Book
Monica Grady is a world renowned expert and is probably best known for her edited volumes,Catalogue of Meteorites, which have generated rave reviews.Dr. Grady's text, Astrobiology, is a wonderful little book, which provides an excellent overview of the field and which contains numerous photos.It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and is this book is well worth reading and would be of interest to anyone desiring a brief but thorough introductory overview of the field of astrobiology. -Rhawn Joseph, Ph.D. author of: Astrobiology, the Origin of Life, and the Death of Darwinism

5-0 out of 5 stars A very nice introduction
This may be only a small book but the text is accurate and the illustrations well chosen. Indeed, it's an ideal introduction to the subject for a young person interested in science or for a layperson wanting to know the basics of our quest to find life in the universe. I think the earlier reviewer was being unkind and a little mischievous in questioning the author's credentials. Monica Grady is actually head of petrology and meteoritics at the Natural History Museum in London and has carried out extensive research on the Martian meteorites and interstellar grains - topics of central importance to our understanding of what life might be like elsewhere. The truth is that astrobiology is a multidisciplinary science and its experts are drawn from fields as diverse as oceanography, planetary astronomy, origin of life research - and meteoritics. ... Read more

17. Astrobiology, Comets And the Origin of Life
by Chandra Wickramasinghe
Hardcover: 232 Pages (2009-08-31)
list price: US$62.00 -- used & new: US$44.00
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Asin: 981256635X
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The idea that comets may be connected with the origin of life on Earth was considered heresy a few decades ago, with scientists shying away from this possibility as if from a medieval superstition. However the case that comets may have contributed at least the complex organic building blocks of life has become very strong, and mechanisms have now been identified whereby comets may incubate and transfer microbial life from one cosmic habitat to another in the Galaxy. The latter process cometary panspermia was pioneered by the late Sir Fred Hoyle and one of the present authors in the early 1980's. A theory that was once controversial is slowly gaining scientific respectability and support.The recent surge of interest in astrobiology has led to a spate of books in astrobiology -- combining astronomy and biology -- but in most of these, cometary panspermia is dealt with only cursorily. The present book sets out the case for cometary panspermia in a cogent way, combining evidence from space science, celestial mechanics, geology and microbiology. It should be an essential part of any university course on astrobiology, and also serve as a reference textbook for researchers in the field. ... Read more

18. Planets and Life: The Emerging Science of Astrobiology
Hardcover: 626 Pages (2007-10-08)
list price: US$173.00 -- used & new: US$148.18
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Asin: 0521824214
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Astrobiology involves the study of the origin and history of life on Earth, planets and moons where life may have arisen, and the search for extraterrestrial life. It combines the sciences of biology, chemistry, palaeontology, geology, planetary physics and astronomy. This textbook brings together world experts in each of these disciplines to provide the most comprehensive coverage of the field currently available. Topics cover the origin and evolution of life on Earth, the geological, physical and chemical conditions in which life might arise and the detection of extraterrestrial life on other planets and moons. The book also covers the history of our ideas on extraterrestrial life and the origin of life, as well as the ethical, philosophical and educational issues raised by astrobiology. Written to be accessible to students from diverse backgrounds, this text will be welcomed by advanced undergraduates and graduates who are taking astrobiology courses. ... Read more

19. Life in the Universe: From the Miller Experiment to the Search for Life on Other Worlds (Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology)
Paperback: 387 Pages (2006-07-26)
list price: US$135.00 -- used & new: US$94.99
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Asin: 1402030932
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The year 2003 was the 50th anniversary of the seminal experiment of Stanley Miller. This was a unique opportunity for highlighting the current interest in this most interdisciplinary subject. The leading space agencies: the European Space Agency (ESA) as well as NASA, the American Space Agency, have planned missions that will elucidate some of the still unknown questions underlying research in the origin of life. New results are surpassing our ability to keep well informed: the reviews that we were presented at the Trieste meeting will bring the readers of this well-documented and timely book up to date in this fast-moving area.
An important component of the conference was the review of the Cassini-Huygens mission due to arrive in the Saturn system just one year after the conference convened in Trieste. There was particular interest in the status of the experiments that will take place inside the atmosphere of Titan, the large satellite, which is a testing ground for the theories and experiments in the field of chemical evolution.
The Jovian system is currently under study with the view of investigating the possibility of life underneath the frozen surface of the Galilean moon Europa; the ESA mission ... Read more

20. The Living Universe: NASA and the Development of Astrobiology
by StevenJ Dick
Paperback: 328 Pages (2005-08-24)
list price: US$25.95 -- used & new: US$15.00
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Asin: 0813537339
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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"This is a wonderful book by two of the best historians of biology in the business."—Michael Ruse, author of Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose?

"The detailed and thorough research underpinning this book is truly remarkable."—Frank Drake, senior scientist and director of the Center for the Study of Life in the Universe, SETI Institute

The Living Universe is a comprehensive, historically nuanced study of the formation of the new scientific discipline of exobiology and its transformation into astrobiology. Among many other themes, the authors analyze how research on the origin of life became wedded to the search for life on other planets and for extraterrestrial intelligence. Many scientific breakthroughs of the last forty years were either directly supported or indirectly spun off from NASA’s exobiology program, including cell symbiosis, the discovery of the Archaea, and the theories of Nuclear Winter and the asteroid extinction of the dinosaurs.

Exobiology and astrobiology have generated public fascination, enormous public relations benefits for NASA, and––on the flip side of the coin––some of the most heated political wrangling ever seen in government science funding. Dick and Strick provide a riveting overview of the search for life throughout the universe, with all of the Earthly complexities of a science-in-the-making and the imperfect humans called scientists. Their book will appeal to biologists, historians and philosophers of science, planetary scientists (including geologists), and an educated general readership interested in the investigation of life on other planets. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent history of astrobiology
Dick and Strick present a history of astrobiological research from the 1950's to the present time. The reader is treated - and I mean treated - to wonderful expositions of the politics and science of NASA's involvement in astrobiology. Featuring early origin of life research, the Viking mission, and the Mars meteorite (among other topics), this work will appeal to scientists and historians alike. Most importantly, it is accessible to non-specialists. Well worth picking up if you are interested in astrobiology and how important that field is to the future of NASA. ... Read more

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