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The Living Cosmos: Our Search for Life in the Universe

Popular Science

By: Chris Impey

393 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations, b/w maps

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Jun 2011 | #190667 | ISBN-13: 9780521173841
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £19.99 $24/€22 approx
Hardback | Dec 2007 | #173983 | ISBN-13: 9781400065066
Availability: Usually dispatched within 7 days Details
NHBS Price: £23.99 $29/€27 approx

About this book

Considering the development of life on Earth, the existence of life in extreme environments and the potential for life elsewhere in the Universe, this book gives a fascinating insight into our place in the Universe.

Chris Impey leads the reader through the history, from the Copernican revolution to the emergence of the field of astrobiology - the study of life in the cosmos. He examines how life on Earth began, exploring its incredible variety and the extreme environments in which it can survive. Finally, Impey turns his attention to our Solar System and the planets beyond, discussing whether there may be life elsewhere in the Universe.

The 2011 paperback edition has undergone revisions compared to the 2007 hardback edition.

'Lively, clear and up-to-date overview of astronomy, cosmology, biology and evolution, specifically as related to the search for extraterrestrial life ... [Impey] does an impressive job explaining an avalanche of information, including such recent major discoveries as the first planets found orbiting distant stars. A skilful account of the universe, the nature of life and where in the universe life might occur.' Kirkus Reviews 'There has been a recent flood of books about astrobiology - the study of life in the universe - but this latest effort by astronomer Chris Impey is one of the best. It provides a solid overview of the diverse research involved ... beautifully written.' The New Scientist 'Impey has written a wonderfully readable book about the chances of life existing elsewhere in the universe ... But The Living Cosmos is not about just that. It is an overview of everything you need to know about the fundamentals, including how we got here and where we're probably going. More important, the science - a word that often causes eyes to glaze over - is laid out with uncommon clarity and panache.' Sara Lippincott, Los Angeles Times 'Chris Impey, one of the world's most distinguished astronomers, takes an exhaustive and illuminating look at astrobiology ... Consistently engrossing and provocative, and frequently absolutely mind-blowing in its implications, The Living Cosmos is filled with scientific details but it remains accessible to readers without a background in astronomy and science. This book is most highly recommended.' Book Loons Reviews 'Impey has clearly done his research thoroughly, and interviewed a great number of the key scientists whilst writing the book ... The Living Cosmos is not only comprehensive in its treatment of the great breadth of astrobiology research, but is also beautifully written. Each chapter opens with an engaging account, full of imagery, of the upcoming topic. On the whole, this is a sterling attempt at making astrobiology accessible to a general audience and I enjoyed reading it immensely.' Lewis Dartnell, Astrobiology Society of Great Britain 'Chris Impey provides a broad, accessible context for his thoughtful, engaging and up-to-date take on the quest for extra terrestrial life.' Bruce Jakosky, Nature 'Chris Impey surveys the state of the art in this exciting multidisciplinary field. Impey frames his book around three questions: How many habitable worlds are there? Is biology unique to the Earth? And are there other intelligent civilizations? Complete with a companion website featuring podcasts, video clips, interviews, news stories and original artwork, The Living Cosmos provides an eloquent summary of humankind's quest for life elsewhere.' Scientific American Book Club 'This is a book about a science that is changing our view of the universe and about what life really means and where it might exist. Impey provides us with a road map to the future of astrobiology, a map that is meant to lead us into a deeper understanding of life and man's station in the universe.' National Space Society


Preface; 1. The unfinished revolution; 2. Life's origins; 3. Extreme life; 4. Shaping evolution; 5. Living in the Solar System; 6. Distant worlds; 7. Are we alone?; Notes; Glossary; Reading list; Media resources; Illustration credits; Index.

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Chris Impey is a University Distinguished Professor and Deputy Head of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Arizona. He wrote the well-received astrobiology book The Living Cosmos (Random House, 2007), the popular science book How It Ends (Norton, 2010) and Talking about Life (Cambridge University Press, 2010), a collection of interviews with astronomers, geologists, biologists and writers.

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