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The Life of Super-Earths: How the Hunt for…

The Life of Super-Earths: How the Hunt for Alien Worlds and Artificial…

by Dimitar Sasselov

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A fine overview of where we stand on the search for other earths, it will serve as a marker for the next generation of books on the discoveries which were and are taking place almost weekly as this book was being written, prepared for publication and read by those interested in the world beyond reality TV and talk radio. ( )
  JNSelko | Aug 6, 2014 |
I think few of us comprehend the golden age of space exploration we presently live in. Granted we're not traveling to other stars or anything like that, but observations made right here from planet Earth can tell us quite a lot. Not only are we capable of gathering more information from deep space, but by studying Earth's own origins, and its biological inhabitants, are we afforded better clues to life elsewhere in the universe.

The potential for life around other stars appears to be much more common than previously thought because we weren't sure whether the configuration of our Solar System was one among many or a rare occurrence. Being able to detect planets around other stars, including those inside the so-called Goldilocks Zone (i.e. the distance from a star where liquid water is possible), brings us closer to solving the universal mystery of, "Is anybody out there?" ( )
  Daniel.Estes | Oct 22, 2012 |
A short but authoritative account of (1) how extrasolar planets are detected, particularly rocky ones larger than Earth (super-Earths, often found by the transit method), (2) why super-Earths should beat Earth in life-friendliness (easier retention of atmospheres and oceans, more plate tectonics), and (3) the possibility of synthetic biology. A welcome little antidote to Gribbin's recent book arguing that terrestrial life is probably all there is.
  fpagan | Apr 2, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 046502193X, Hardcover)

In 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus fomented a revolution when he debunked the geocentric view of the universe, proving instead that our planet wasn’t central to the universe. Almost five hundred years later, the revolution he set in motion is nearly complete. Just as earth is not the center of things, the life on it, it appears, is not unique to the planet. Or is it?
The Life of Super-Earths is a breathtaking tour of current efforts to answer the age-old question: Are we alone in the universe? Astronomer Dimitar Sasselov, the founding director of Harvard University’s Origins of Life Initiative, takes us on a fast-paced hunt for habitable planets and alien life forms. He shows how the search for “super-Earths”—rocky planets like our own that orbit other stars—may provide the key to answering essential questions about the origins of life here and elsewhere. That is, if we don’t find the answers to those questions here first. As Sasselov and other astronomers have uncovered planets with mixes of elements different from our own, chemists have begun working out the heretofore unseen biochemistries that those planets could support. That knowledge is feeding directly into synthetic biology—the effort to build wholly novel forms of life—making it likely that we will first discover truly “alien” life forms in an earthly lab, rather than on a remote planet thousands of light years away.
Sasselov tells the gripping story of a moment of unprecedented potential—a convergence of pioneering efforts in astronomy and biology to peer into the unknown. The Life of Super-Earths offers nothing short of a transformation in our understanding of life and its place in the cosmos.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:11 -0400)

An astronomy professor at Harvard University discusses the possibilities of finding other worlds that sustain alien life forms, citing recent breakthroughs in biology and exoplanetary astronomy, including the recent discovery of arsenic-based bacteria in a California lake.… (more)

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