2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2010
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.
3 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2009
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.