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Astrobiology: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach [Paperback]

by Jonathan Lunine
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 23, 2004 0805380426 978-0805380422
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.

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About the Author

Jonathan I. Lunine is Professor of Planetary Sciences and Physics, a Galileo Circle Faculty Fellow, and chair of the Theoretical Astrophysics Program at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He is a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. His research interests center broadly on the formation and evolution of planets and planetary systems, the nature of organics in the outer solar system, and the processes that lead to the formation of habitable worlds. He is an interdisciplinary scientist on the Cassini mission to Saturn, and on the James Webb Space Telescope, as well as co-investigator on a number of other existing or planned NASA missions. Dr. Lunine is the author of over 160 scientific papers and of the books Earth: Evolution of a Habitable World (Cambridge University Press, 1999), and Astrobiology: A Multidisciplinary Approach (Pearson Addison-Wesley, 2005). He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Geophysical Union, which awarded him the James B. Macelwane medal. Other awards include the Harold C. Urey Prize (American Astronomical Society) and Ya. B. Zeldovich Award of COSPAR's Commission B. Dr. Lunine serves on the Space Science Advisory Committee and chairs the Solar System Exploration Subcommittee for NASA. He earned a B.S. in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Rochester in 1980, followed by M.S. (1983) and Ph.D. (1985) degrees in Planetary Science from the California Institute of Technology.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 450 pages
  • Publisher: Benjamin Cummings (August 23, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805380426
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805380422
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best astrobiology textbook on the market now November 30, 2004
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.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant but demanding overview of a new field January 3, 2006
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.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
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.
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