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Beyond UFOs: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and Its Astonishing Implications for Our Future Paperback – May 22, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0691149882 ISBN-10: 0691149887 Edition: With a New afterword by the author

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; With a New afterword by the author edition (May 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691149887
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691149882
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In cogent and entertaining language, astrophysicist and popular writer Bennett (On the Cosmic Horizon) explains that the determining factor in whether we can locate intelligent life elsewhere in the universe is whether such a civilization—and our own—can continue long enough to develop the highly sophisticated technology needed for interstellar travel. If humans are going to meet that challenge, Bennett argues, we must solve global warming, debilitating disease, terrorism, poverty, and war. We must use our compassion to teach all people to respect all others, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or gender. This political message is couched in fascinating and completely accessible science. Bennett does a wonderful job of explaining the conditions necessary for simple life, how we might discern its existence and where we should be looking. He then does the same thing for intelligent life. While he is fair to those who believe life is incredibly rare, he makes a compelling case that life is likely to be abundant. He also predicts that we will gather incontrovertible proof of intelligent life in the universe within the next 20 to 30 years. 8 color, 30 b&w illus. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review


Winner of the 2010 US Review of Books's Eric Hoffer Book Award in Culture



Winner of the 2009 Silver Nautilus Book Awards in Cosmology/New Science



Finalist for the 2008 Eugene M. Emme Astronautical Literature Award, American Astronautical Society


"In cogent and entertaining language, astrophysicist and popular writer Bennett explains that the determining factor in whether we can locate intelligent life elsewhere in the universe is whether such a civilization--and our own--can continue long enough to develop the highly sophisticated technology needed for interstellar travel...Bennett does a wonderful job of explaining the conditions necessary for simple life, how we might discern its existence and where we should be looking. He then does the same thing for intelligent life. While he is fair to those who believe life is incredibly rare, he makes a compelling case that life is likely to be abundant."--Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)


"The old adage 'don't judge a book by its cover' (or, in this case, its title) certainly applies here. While one might expect a book of science fiction, Bennett presents this awe-inspiring topic in a scientifically accurate but personal way. I would recommend it to anyone interested in reading a creative summary of the status of the search for life elsewhere in the universe and would hope that it might provide a starting point to inspire the next generation of astronomers and astrobiologists."--Lisa Jardine-Wright, Times Higher Education



"[Jeffrey Bennett] has taken a break from the treadmill of updating his textbook and has written a popular book instead, bringing the rest of us up to date on our extraordinary new and expanded universe--and on who else might live in it . . . Beyond UFOs is crammed with neat analogies, startling imagery and mind-blowing illustrations of astronomical concepts. If you want to understand the universe and our place in it, you will not find a better primer. The first diagram alone--which shows how Earth's 10,000-kilometre span of real estate fits into a supercluster of galaxies a billion trillion kilometers across--bear a good 10 minutes of study. This truth is astonishing, and humbling--and Beyond UFOs is a great place to find it."--Michael Brooks, New Scientist



"Planet by planet, moon by moon, [Beyond UFOs] explores the possibility of life elsewhere in this solar system. It then speculates about other solar systems in our galaxy where, according to the prevailing scientific view, simple life almost surely exists and intelligent life is plausible. For the most part, Bennett's search for extraterrestrial life adds up to a very satisfying package. . . . At its core, this book delivers a combination that is hard to beat: solid yet highly speculative science plus accessible prose that add up to an out-of-this-world reading experience."--Fred Bortz, Seattle Times



"Bennett walks us through the daunting calculations that lead to the conclusion that the existence of life elsewhere is not only possible, but highly likely. But as we wonder where else life exists and what forms it might take, scientists are forced back to more fundamental questions. What is the nature of life itself? Will we know it if we see it?...Bennett offers a host of lessons here not only about global warming and environmental degradation, but our place in the universe as well."--Matthew Battles, The Boston Globe



"This exploration of potential alien life is a timely work, just as the steadily increasing discoveries of extra-solar planets makes the possibility of finding alien life more plausible. . . . [Beyond UFOs] is a fully rounded examination of the subject, accessible to all. I guarantee that after reading this book you will be watching space probe results that much more closely. And maybe, you will be watching the skies too!"--Steve Ringwood, Astronomy Now



"This is a highly readable and enjoyable book that centers on astrobiology--a discipline that melds astronomy, biology, geology--and a little bit of luck--to explore the prospect of life on other worlds. . . . Bennett is an excellent writer, taking the reader on an exploration quest to find alien life, and how difficult solar system sleuthing can be, such as on Mars, Jupiter's Europa, or on Saturn's Titan. You'll also find an excellent treatment on current activities surrounding the on-going search for extraterrestrial intelligence."--The Coalition for Space Exploration



"Particularly enjoyable is the down-to-earth writing; Bennett, an astrophysicist, author, and educator, tells the reader exactly how he feels about various topics (even the role of God in the scheme of things). Readers may not agree with everything he says, but he does offer food for thought."--B.R. Parker, Choice



"Beyond UFOs gives a good impression from the moment you first take it into your hands. It is attractively produced, well written, and very thoroughly proofread. It's an interesting and challenging complement to focused research, and will be particularly enjoyed by anyone who has an appetite for broad science tinged with morals."--Elizabeth Griffin, The Observatory



"Beyond UFOs is a rich, slow, and rewarding read. Rich because it is full of some of the most interesting current interdisciplinary science regarding planets and life that you can find, blending astronomy, geology, history, and astrobiology in a single narrative. Slow because each page is so full of interesting content that you don't want to skim. Rewarding because Bennett is simply a fantastic writer and presenter, making the read thoroughly enjoyable. No science expertise required."--Jennifer Wiseman, Books & Culture


More About the Author

Jeffrey Bennett holds a B.A. in Biophysics from the University of California, San Diego, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of Colorado, Boulder. His extensive experience in research and education includes serving two years as a Visiting Senior Scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC; creating research and education projects for the Hubble Space Telescope and other NASA missions; proposing and helping to develop the Voyage Scale Model Solar System on the National Mall in Washington, DC; and teaching at every level from preschool through graduate school. He is the author of best-selling college textbooks in astronomy, astrobiology, mathematics, and statistics, as well as author of three books for the general public (On the Cosmic Horizon, Beyond UFOs, and Math for Life) and of the award-winning children's books Max Goes to the Moon, Max Goes to Mars, Max Goes to Jupiter, and The Wizard Who Saved the World. For more information, visit www.jeffreybennett.com.

Customer Reviews

For me, he is the very best science writer I've ever read.
Anthony Kelly
This book is easy and enjoyable, and I recommend it for anyone who has an interest in astronomy, UFOs, or science.
David J. Syzdek
As with any good non-fiction book I learned more than I expected to.
G. Caldwell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By David J. Syzdek on June 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book details on a layman's level, the state of the science and technology being used to search for life beyond earth.

Bennett does an excellent job explaining the process of science and the development of scientific ideas starting with ancient ideas about the universe and how scientific though has progressed (in fits and starts) to the current day. He also explains how scientific thought and religious beliefs can coexist and do not inherently contradict each other.

The book continues by examining the question of "What is Life" and the process of getting life started. After looking at the requirements of life on a planetary and star system scale, the book looks at the possibility of life throughout the solar system and then beyond. Bennett looks at the probability of extraterrestrial intelligence arising an asking the question: "... If civilizations really are as common as it seems they ought to be, shouldn't we by now have some real evidence for their existence?" Finally, Bennett looks at the social and cultural changes that we could possibly face if we learn of intelligent life in the universe.

This book is easy and enjoyable, and I recommend it for anyone who has an interest in astronomy, UFOs, or science. Even non-scientists would find it interesting.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Todd Neff on December 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Jeff Bennett is one of our great science communicators, an astrophysics Ph.D. with an uncommon gift for rendering opaque subjects in compelling, accessible prose. With "Beyond UFOs," Bennett has achieved something special. The volume spans seamlessly topics as diverse as radio astronomy, molecular biology, geophysics and science history, building a convincing case for his belief -- and clearly his hope -- that life is pervasive in the universe.

Though a scientist, teacher and bestselling textbook author (The Cosmic Perspective, the nation's top introductory astronomy textbook, is also his work), his tone here is conversational, that of a favorite uncle describing something about which he wants you to share his excitement -- in this case the idea that life teems throughout the cosmos. With as many stars in the universe as there are grains of sand on all the world's beaches, who's to argue with him?

The more of this book I read, the more I felt it should be required reading. A quick stop by the book's Web site ([...]) shows that it already is. In 2008, Miami of Ohio made it their pick for their Summer Reading Program for 3,700 incoming freshmen. Miami made a wise choice. This book, in addition to being a great read, will change -- I think for the better -- the way you think about creation and your role in it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Kelly on June 11, 2014
Format: Paperback
Dr. Jeffrey Bennett has done it again with another amazing and extraordinary book! This book, Beyond UFO's takes the reader on an amazing journey back in time, into the future, through our solar system, through our galaxy and into other galaxies throughout the Universe that is simply amazing. Taking the subjects of biology, chemistry, astronomy and physics and tying them all together, Dr. Bennett very thoroughly, patiently and step by step uses evidence based science to explain scientific subjects that will blow your mind.

With ease and great clarity, Dr. Bennett explains seemingly complex subjects such as human and Universal evolution, the possibility of life on this and other planets, exactly what conditions must be met in order for life to both form and be sustainable, the probability of life existing in our solar system, our Milky Way Galaxy and throughout the Universe and boils them all down to its most simplest and basic fundamentals.

As with all of his books and textbooks, Dr. Bennett assumes no prior scientific knowledge on the part of the reader. He very thoroughly and eloquently explains everything in a very clear and concise step by step manner that eliminates any confusion on the part of the reader. Personally, I went in to this book thinking it would be all about aliens. Much to my pleasant surprise, Dr. Bennett really saves that portion for Chapters 9 and 10, his last 2 chapters in the book. He takes the first 8 chapters of his book on a wonderful and enlightening journey about the history of science and the most influential scientists, the history of our planet and solar system, our galaxy and the entire Universe.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on August 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While the title, "Beyond UFOs: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and Its Astonishing Implications for Our Future," offers a provocative tease about visitations by aliens from other worlds, this book is really about the very down to Earth efforts to learn the answer to the age-old question, "Are we alone in the universe?" As such it is a reasonable introduction to astrobiology written in an engaging and accessible style. For those without a background this will be useful, but for professionals there will be little here that is new or different.

There is no doubt but that astrobiology is a fascinating, compelling, and important subject. Everyone's eyes seem to light up when pondering the prospect of life somewhere else in the universe, and it is completely appropriate that NASA has made pursuit of this question a central part of its space science program. It may well be that while the twentieth century was the century of physics, the twenty-first century will be about biology, or in this case astrobiology. To his credit Bennett is willing to take on the tin foil hat brigade and skewer those who claim alien visitation and abduction, in the process offering a primer on discerning accepted fact and personal opinion.

Bennett also relates the ferment elsewhere with direct applicability to NASA's search for life beyond Earth. The research on extremophile life on Earth, at the bottom of the oceans around sea vents, within rocks, etc., all fueled reconsiderations of what this might mean for life elsewhere in the solar system. The origins and evolution of life on Earth has held powerful analog lessons for the prospects for life beyond.
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