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Comment: Cancelled library hardcover book with protective clear mylar jacket left on (can be removed by buyer if he/she chooses to reveal original dust jacket). Shows minimal reader wear, all the usual library marks, tape and stamps/stickers. Pages intact with no ink markings or highlighting. Strong binding. No pages have been folded or creased.
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The Life of Super-Earths: How the Hunt for Alien Worlds and Artificial Cells Will Revolutionize Life on Our Planet Hardcover – January 24, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0465021932 ISBN-10: 046502193X

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The Life of Super-Earths: How the Hunt for Alien Worlds and Artificial Cells Will Revolutionize Life on Our Planet + Life on a Young Planet: The First Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth (Princeton Science Library)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (January 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 046502193X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465021932
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #816,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Short, cogent and stimulating”

Andrew H. Knoll, Fisher Professor of Natural History, Harvard University, and author of Life on a Young Planet
“In engaging prose, Dimitar Sasselov explains how remarkable breakthroughs in astronomy are reframing one of humankind’s oldest questions—are we alone in the universe? The Life of Super-Earths provides nutrition for the lively mind.”
 
Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director of Exhibitions and Programmes, Serpentine Gallery
“Dimitar Sasselov once told me that ‘biology is the future of astronomy,’ a statement which amazed and intrigued me. In this new brilliant book he explains why his expanded notion of astronomy includes biology, and geology and chemistry, in its exciting search for new planets, new worlds, and new life. Sasselov is one of the great public intellectuals of the 21st century. He inspires artists, architects, philosophers and many others. It is urgent to read Sasselov.”
 
Nature
“In this short, sharp look at the [extrasolar planet] subset called ‘super-Earths’ — rocky or oceanic, but more massive than Earth—astronomer Dimitar Sasselov gives us the science and the speculation about life on other worlds.”

New Scientist
“[W]hat is life and how did it come about? Astrophysicist Dimitar Sasselov argues that we are on the brink of being able to answer this question, and his enthusiasm is infectious…. Only by knowing what is possible, says Sasselov in this inspirational book, can we ever understand how life got going on Earth and why it has the characteristics it has.”

Washington Post
“In his new book, Harvard astronomy professor Dimitar Sasselov lays out an optimistic case for extraterrestrial life and explains why super-Earths—rocky planets that are more massive and larger than Earth—may be better equipped to harbor the stuff of life.”

The Daily Galaxy
“[A] brilliant new study.”
 
Discover
“In this slim but absorbing introduction to the epic search for life on extrasolar planets, Sasselov explores how astronomy, geology, and biology are conspiring to give us a radical new vision of a universe in which our living Earth is ‘just another planet.’”
 
Library Journal
“As the codiscoverer of several extrasolar planets, Sasselov provides an insider’s view on planet hunting…. An interesting read.”

 

CHOICE
“Sasselov takes readers firsthand through the recent exciting discoveries of large Earth-like planets. Enough super-Earths have been discovered to enable the study of their relationship to the origins of life itself…. The well-constructed logic in this book provides plenty of support for the more interesting view that the universe is in the early phases of the evolution of carbon-rich star systems that will continue to generate life on other planets…. [A] masterfully clear statement about the possibility of life on exoplanets.”

About the Author

Dimitar Sasselov is a Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University and the Founder and Director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative. His research has been covered by the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and others. He lives in Auburndale, Massachusetts.

 


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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 15 customer reviews
This was a really interesting and fun book.
Michael R. Nofi
Quite simply put, I want to hear more about this guy in the years to come!!
Danny (Blanco) Flores
An intriguing and provocative book about life and the universe.
Michael K

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jim Davis on May 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In many respects this book is excellent. It has a lot of interesting information about the discovery and composition of exoplanets. The discovery techniques are gone into in commendable detail, especially the transit method. There is also a fair bit of historical background as well. The composition relies more on computer models but the breadth of possible planets (sort of like a planetary "main sequence") is also gone into in some detail. The astronomy end of the book is great.

The biology part is a very different matter. Things start off well enough as the details of the origins of terrestrial life are reviewed. Then the author makes the plausible enough claim that a certain amount of geological activity is necessary for the development of life and earth's is just barely adequate. Super-earths, he asserts, with their greater geological activity would be more hospitable to the development of life.

By this point we have arrived at the last chapter. The book has built up to and has been pointing to the climax promised in the the book's title, "The Life of Super-Earths". I was expecting the author to tie up the biology and astronomy and show how life on super-earths would differ from life on earth. Naturally this would be somewhat speculative but that doesn't matter.

What we receive instead is a rather lame chapter on synthetic biology. Super-earths disappear from the narrative and we get a description of what biologists are hoping to do in the laboratory. All in all, I felt cheated. The promised punch line never came.

The book can be recommended nonetheless as a relative recent recapitulation of events surrounding exoplanets, both discovery and theory.

The Kindle edition was quite serviceable with a few flaws.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steve Reina VINE VOICE on January 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Since 1993 over 600 extra solar planets have been discovered.

While interesting what most people find truly fascinating about these newly discovered planets is the likelihood that any of them could harbor life.

It's with this real question in mind that Harvard professor Dimitar Sasselov examines what we know about life on Earth and what these newly discovered planets tell us about its likelihood elsewhere.

In short Sasselov says:

1) Far from being less hosbitable to life Super Earths are more likely to harbor it than our planet. Why this is so amazingly has to do with another interesting disclosure by Sasselov.

2) Life on Earth has a lot to with the fact that Earth has plate tectonics. Plate tectonics is the process by which continents slowly move around Earth and in so doing reshape the way the Earth looks and suffle environments to better give life a chance to arise. According to Sasselov Super Earths have better plate tectonics because they are more likely to have it than planets that are small as ours is.

3) Most importantly, when he crunches the numbers Sasselov's estimate of the likelihood of planets with life in our galaxy is somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 million.

As mentioned at the outset the search for other planets cannot help but be a search for other life. Thanks to Professor Sasselov's excellent book, readers can have a SUPER understanding of recent developments in this exciting field.
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By T. Howard on July 14, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a great book, easy to read for the non-scientist.
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Format: Hardcover
TLoS-E covers a lot of ground in a relative handful of pages. Less 1 star for 2 reasons: 1) it's not the most scintillating piece of prose. In fairness, though the writing starts off quite clunkily (as popular science writing goes) it does improve. 2) the book has very little to say about artificial cells or the revolutionizing of life on the planet. This, too, is only a minor quibble (though I'll grant that readers aggrieved on this score have a point): the insights the book offers re the search for super-earths made the time I dedicated to reading it time well spent indeed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Amazing and quick read. Really insightful about physical, as well as chemical, requirements for life elsewhere in the cosmos. Easy enough for a beginner to pick up, but original enough to interest space fanatics, too
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By Mitchell Conquer on December 18, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book because it was a solid introduction into the search for exo-planets and was accessible but packed with information.
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Format: Hardcover
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?"
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