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Life in Space: Astrobiology for Everyone Hardcover – April 30, 2009

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674033214 ISBN-10: 0674033213 Edition: First Edition (US) First Printing

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Editorial Reviews


In a fascinating primer, Lucas John Mix lays the groundwork for what may become the hottest science in the latter part of this century. Through basic biology and planetary sciences, Mix muses over which worlds in our solar system might possibly harbor life and which seemingly possess environments too hostile to expect life of any kind. He investigates the conditions under which life is known to thrive and ponders whether it's inevitable that life could, or would, take hold just about anywhere the prerequisite temperatures and elements come together. (Edward C. Fennell Charleston Post and Courier 2009-06-14)

Most of this book is accessible and fascinating. (Bruce Ramsey Seattle Times 2009-02-26)

Mix does an excellent job 'assembling the larger puzzle' about life in space from the pieces provided by all the scientific disciplines. (Connie Bertka, Lecturer on Contemporary Issues in Science & Religion, Wesley Theological Seminary)

What is life? If you are sure you know and do not want to be challenged, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK! However, you will miss an extraordinarily fascinating account, told with a particularly engaging style. Is an egg alive? Maybe yes, maybe no. It is a single cell. Most cells are invisible to the unaided eye, but the largest cell is an ostrich egg, perhaps 20 centimeters across. As the author concludes, life is a great deal more confusing and wonderful than anyone suspected. (Owen Gingerich, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, author of God's Universe)

Lucas Mix has written a beautiful synthesis of the multiple sciences that make up astrobiology. He tells the story of life from the broad perspective that links discoveries in astronomy, geoscience, chemistry, and biology and connects the history of life on Earth to our prospects for finding life, perhaps very different life forms, beyond our familiar home planet. (David Morrison, astrobiologist, co-author of The Planetary System)

Mix has written a book that captures the excitement of this new age of discovery that we are in the midst of today. He is systematic and thorough, an admirable accomplishment given the multidisciplinary nature of astrobiology. This makes the book valuable to the reader seriously interested in the subject. Mix's prose is very light and entertaining, making his thorough treatment of the subject an asset, rather than a liability. The casual reader will most likely enjoy the book and learn a lot from it. (Dimitar Sasselov, Director, Harvard Origins of Life Initiative)

About the Author

Lucas John Mix is the Episcopal Chaplain at the at University of Arizona.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; First Edition (US) First Printing edition (March 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674033213
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674033214
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #912,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By F. J. Masterman on August 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great book. The fascinanting subject of life outhere is touched here, with a light vocabulary but with mastery on the subject matter.
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3 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andre T. Bradshaw on May 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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