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This is the unification of astronomy and biology and the answer to three of our biggest questions: Are we alone? Where did life come from? And – most importantly – where is life going? Are we all there is in the universe? We may be closer to answering this question than anyone has previously considered. During the past year, we have witnessed unprecedented scientific break-throughs in the seemingly unrelated fields of synthetic biology and exoplanetary astronomy.
In The Life of Super-Earths, astronomer Dimitar Sasselov unites these efforts, arguing that the coming years will not only show us where other life might be in the universe, but also how weird it might be. The effect, Sasselov contends, is to complete the Copernican Revolution – the paradigm shift away from the Ptolemaic, earth-centred model of the heavens. The newest findings will show that our kind of life is not the only kind of life there can be. The upshot is that these findings will also have dramatic implications for technology as well as philosophical and pure understandings of nature. The first truly "alien" life form may not come from a distant planet, but from a Petri dish in a research lab. Sasselov tackles new ideas in science – what we find in the lab informs what we may find in the universe and vice-versa – which are quickly becoming reality. The Life of Super-Earths is nothing short of a transformation in our understanding of life and its place in the cosmos.