418 pages, 115 b/w illus.
With over 350 planets now known to exist beyond the Solar System, spacecraft heading for Mars, and the ongoing search for extraterrestrial intelligence, this timely book explores current ideas about the search for life in the Universe. It contains candid interviews with dozens of astronomers, geologists, biologists, and writers about the origin and range of terrestrial life and likely sites for life beyond Earth. The interviewees discuss what we've learnt from the missions to Mars and Titan, talk about the search for Earth clones, describe the surprising diversity of life on Earth, speculate about post-biological evolution, and explore what contact with intelligent aliens will mean to us. Covering topics from astronomy and planetary science to geology and biology, this book will fascinate anyone who has ever wondered 'Are we alone?'
'The views expressed here range from the cautious to the radical, and from those rooted in hard science to the more fanciful, and the views on extraterrestrial life range from those who see it as being widespread, to those who suspect it is extremely rare, perhaps unique to Earth.' Magonia Review of Books 'Astrobiology is still a young and growing science. For the first time, scientists and philosophers alike are able to chart the development of the field in real-time. Chris Impey's book, Talking about Life: Conversations on Astrobiology, takes a novel approach to this in seeking the views and professional opinions of scientists intimately associated with astrobiological theory and research, through relaxed and informal conversations.' Leila Battison, University of Oxford
Preface; Part I. Introduction Timothy Ferris, Iris Fry, Steven Dick, Ann Druyan, Pinky Nelson, Neil Tyson, Steve Benner and William Bains; Part II. Earth Roger Buick, Lynn Rothschild, John Baross, Joe Kirschvink, Andrew Knoll, Simon Conway Morris, Roger Hanlon and Lori Marino; Part III. Solar System Chris McKay, David Grinspoon, Jonathan Lunine, Carolyn Porco, Laurie Leshin, Guy Consolmagno and Peter Smith; Part IV. Exoplanets Alan Boss, Geoff Marcy, Debra Fischer, Sara Seager, David Charbonneau and Vikki Meadows; Part V. Frontiers Jill Tarter, Seth Shostak, Ray Kurzweil, Nick Bostrom, Paul Davies, Martin Rees, Ben Bova and Jennifer Michael Hecht; Reading list; Glossary; 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. His research interests are observational cosmology, gravitational lensing, and the evolution and structure of galaxies. He has co-authored two introductory textbooks, and wrote the well-received astrobiology book The Living Cosmos (Random House, 2007).