Automotive Holiday Deals Books Holiday Gift Guide Shop Men's Athletic Shoes Learn more nav_sap_plcc_6M_fly_beacon Adele egg_2015 All-New Amazon Fire TV Martha Stewart American Made Amazon Gift Card Offer minions minions minions  Amazon Echo Starting at $84.99 Kindle Black Friday Deals BestoftheYear Outdoor Deals on HTL
The Life of Super-Earths and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

The Life of Super-Earths: How the Hunt for Alien Worlds and Artificial Cells Will Revolutionize Life on Our Planet

18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0465021932
ISBN-10: 046502193X
Why is ISBN important?
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy new
Only 14 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.
List Price: $25.99 Save: $9.62 (37%)
43 New from $2.87
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
The Life of Super-Earths:... has been added to your Cart
More Buying Choices
43 New from $2.87 53 Used from $0.01 2 Collectible from $9.96
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student

$16.37 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 14 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • The Life of Super-Earths: How the Hunt for Alien Worlds and Artificial Cells Will Revolutionize Life on Our Planet
  • +
  • The Universe Within: The Deep History of the Human Body
  • +
  • Interstellar: The Official Movie Novelization
Total price: $37.26
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews


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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.



Hero Quick Promo
Holiday Deals in Kindle Books
Save up to 85% on more than 1,000 Kindle Books. These deals are valid until November 30, 2015. Learn more

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: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #308,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 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.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 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.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Estes on November 4, 2012
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?"
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By STEPHEN PLETKO on April 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover

"My book introduces a general audience to new ideas on old big questions about life and the cosmic perspective on life...

My goal was to write a popular book because the new science concepts are truly wonderful and exciting, and because they have immediate implications for all of us. My approach was to provide a thorough introduction in order to make the science accessible, followed by my own views to the unanswered questions, and keeping the technical details to the endnotes only."

The above is found in this slim book by Dimitar Sasselov. Sasselov is a Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University as well as the founder and director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative.

This book is divided into two parts.

The first part discusses extrasolar planets or "exoplanets." This astronomical term refers to planets not of our solar system (of which many have already been found by the detection methods outlined in this book). This part ends with a good explanation of "SUPER-EARTHS" (a term coined by Sasselov). A SUPER-EARTH is:

"a planet that is more massive and larger than Earth, although still made of rocks--perhaps with continents and oceans--and an atmosphere...[T]heory predicts that they might have all the nice attributes of Earth, and, in fact, provide a more stable environment on their surface."

The second part is entitled "Origins of Life." In this part, Sasselov's main argument is:

"for life to emerge, it must happen on planets." That is, "life is a planetary process."

In my opinion, the last two chapters of this part are excellent. (I found the brief discussion of synthetic biology quite interesting.) I was especially impressed with Sasselov's reasoning and insights.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
The Life of Super-Earths: How the Hunt for Alien Worlds and Artificial Cells Will Revolutionize Life on Our Planet
This item: The Life of Super-Earths: How the Hunt for Alien Worlds and Artificial Cells Will Revolutionize Life on Our Planet
Price: $16.37
Ships from and sold by