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Life in the Universe 0th Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0805385779
ISBN-10: 0805385770
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jeffrey Bennett received a B.A. in biophysics from the University of California at San Diego in 1981 and a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Colorado in 1987. He currently spends most of his time as a teacher, speaker, and writer. He has taught extensively at all levels, including having founded and run a science summer school for elementary and middle school children. At the college level, he has taught more than 50 college courses in astronomy, physics, mathematics, and education. He served two years as a visiting senior scientist at NASA headquarters, where he helped create numerous programs for science education. He also proposed the idea for and helped develop the Voyage Scale Model Solar System, which opened in 2001 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Besides his astronomy textbooks, he has written college-level textbooks in astronomy, mathematics, and statistics, and a book for the general public, On the Cosmic Horizon (Addison-Wesley, 2001). He also recently completed his first children's book, Max Goes to the Moon (Big Kid Science, 2003). When not working, he enjoys participating in masters swimming and in the daily adventures of life with his wife, Lisa, his children Grant and Brooke, and his dog, Max.


Seth Shostak earned his B.A. in physics from Princeton University (1965) and a Ph.D. in astronomy from the California Institute of Technology (1972). He is currently a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, where he helps press the search for intelligent cosmic company. For much of his career, Seth conducted radio astronomy research on galaxies and investigated the fact that these massive objects contain large amounts of unseen mass. He has worked at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia, as well as the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute in Groningen, The Netherlands (where he learned to speak bad Dutch).

Seth also founded and ran a company that produced computer animation for television. He has written several hundred popular articles on various topics in astronomy, technology, film, and television, and teaches courses at the California Academy of Sciences and elsewhere. A frequent fixture on the lecture circuit, Seth gives approximately 70 talks annually at both educational and corporate institutions. He is a Distinguished Speaker for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a frequent commentator on astronomical matters for radio and television. His book Sharing the Universe (Berkeley Hills Books, 1998) details the rationale and expectations of the scientific search for intelligent life. When he's not trying to track down the aliens, Seth can often be found in the darkroom, where he continues to hope that something interesting will develop.


Bruce Jakosky received his B.S. degree in geophysics and space physics from UCLA (1977) and his Ph.D. in planetary science and geophysics from the California Institute of Technology (1982). He has been at the University of Colorado in Boulder since 1982 and is now a Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in geology, planetary science, and astrobiology, and his research emphasizes planetary geology, the evolution of the surface and atmosphere of Mars, and the potential for life on Mars and elsewhere in the solar system. In addition, he is exploring the connections between society and science, especially astrobiology.Bruce has been involved in analysis of data from the Viking, Solar Mesosphere Explorer, Clementine, Mars Observer, Mars Global Surveyor, and Mars Odyssey spacecraft missions. He heads up the University of Colorado's astrobiology program, which is a part of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. He has served on numerous advisory committees within NASA and the National Research Council and has been editor or a member of the editorial board of a number of planetary science and astrobiology journals. He is a co-editor of the book Mars (Univ. Arizona Press, 1992), and author of the book The Search for Life on Other Planets (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1998). He doesn't really like gardening, but does it to keep his yard from becoming completely overgrown with weeds, and he appears to love flying judging by the amount of time he spends traveling to meetings.



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Product Details

  • Paperback: 346 pages
  • Publisher: Benjamin Cummings (July 29, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805385770
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805385779
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.6 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,527,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book seems to have two goals. One is to teach the reader something about astrobiology. The other is to be a text for a science course for college undergraduates (in most cases, underclassmen majoring in something other than science).

The book begins by discussing how stars and planets are formed. And then comes a major point: biology may be common in the universe given evidence that organic molecules form fairly easily, life appears to have originated early in the Earth's history, and there's evidence that Earth life can survive under a wide range of conditions.

Next, there's a section on the nature of science and the scientific method. And then some material on the definition and nature of life. From there we go to the Earth's geological record. And there's a useful discussion of greenhouse gases, possible high surface temperatures on Earth when life first developed, and a possible "Snowball Earth" much later.

Now comes a key chapter: how did life get started? And when. The text shows that it was not all that long after the Earth emerged from forming and being heavily bombarded. And that hyperthermophiles may well have been the common ancestor of life on Earth today. The book speculates that the process was: synthesis of organic precursor molecules, development of replicators (RNA), development of protocells (enclosing membranes), primitive cells (the RNA world), and then DNA-based cells. It also addresses the question of whether life could have migrated to Earth from Mars or elsewhere. There's a discussion of the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere. And how primitive life evolved into the intelligent life that now exists.

These are certainly the right topics to start with.
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By Tbg2006 on September 16, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is almost identical to the next edition! Buy this edition instead of the new version it will save Students money. Some questions at the ends of the chapters are different but there isn't mush different! Hope this helps students!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book does a fantastic job of introducing concepts in geology, biology, chemistry, physics, and of course astronomy, and ties them all together with the search for extraterrestrial life. The book was both entertaining and informative, and was truly a pleasure to read.

If this book were cheaper I would recommend it for laymen to read if the search for ET is an affinity or interest. The book is relatively thin, and like most text books I can't figure out why they are so expensive when I can buy books of the same or bigger sizes new for $20. It is also a paperback, which I don't like very much as I prefer hardcovers for books that I will keep and reference later. Still, for use in a class it is actually a great book. 4.5/5 stars.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought and read the 2nd edition as well as the 3rd and both are amazingly well written with lots of coloured diagrams and photos. Very clearly written with very little prerequisites needed to understand the subject matter. The 3rd edition has updated information regarding more recently discovered extrasolar planets. If you buy one book on Astrobiology make it this one , it is that good.
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Format: Paperback
This book seems to have two goals. One is to teach the reader something about astrobiology. The other is to be a text for a science course for college undergraduates (in most cases, underclassmen majoring in something other than science).

The book begins by discussing how stars and planets are formed. And then comes a major point: biology may be common in the universe given evidence that organic molecules form fairly easily, life appears to have originated early in the Earth's history, and there's evidence that Earth life can survive under a wide range of conditions. Next, there's a section on the nature of science and the scientific method. And then some material on the definition and nature of life. From there we go to the Earth's geological record. And there's a useful discussion of greenhouse gases, possible high surface temperatures on Earth when life first developed, and a possible "Snowball Earth" much later.

Now comes a key chapter: how did life get started? And when. The text shows that it was not all that long after the Earth emerged from forming and being heavily bombarded. And that hyperthermophiles may well have been the common ancestor of life on Earth today. The book speculates that the process was: synthesis of organic precursor molecules, development of replicators (RNA), development of protocells (enclosing membranes), primitive cells (the RNA world), and then DNA-based cells. It also addresses the question of whether life could have migrated to Earth from Mars or elsewhere. There's a discussion of the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere. And how primitive life evolved into the intelligent life that now exists.

These are certainly the right topics to start with.
Read more ›
Comment 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
I rented this book from BookRenter.com because I thought I would just need it for my Intro to Astrobiology class, and now I am deeply regretting not buying it from the get-go!! Fascinating and very clearly explains the theories behind the origins of life and potential for life in the universe without being too wordy or going to deep into complex science. It pulls together the important parts of biology, chemistry, physics, and astronomy. Kudos to the writers. Highly recommend to professors teaching Astrobiology and unsure of what book to pick. As a student, it was a perfect companion to an already great class.
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