One of the most powerful questions we ask about the cosmos is: Are we alone?
The Possibility of Life traces the history of our understanding of what and where life in the universe could be, from Galileo and Copernicus through to our current tracking of exoplanets in the "Goldilocks zone", where life akin to ours on Earth might exist. Along the way, Jaime Green studies insights from a long tradition of science fiction that uses imagination to extrapolate and construct worlds, in turn inspiring scientists and their research.
Bringing together expert interviews, cutting-edge astronomy, philosophical inquiry and pop culture touchstones ranging from A Wrinkle in Time to Star Trek, The Possibility of Life delves into our evolving conception of the cosmos to pose an even deeper question: what does it mean to be human?
Jaime Green is a science writer, essayist, editor, and teacher, and she is the series editor of The Best American Science and Nature Writing. She received her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Columbia, and her writing has appeared in Slate, Popular Science, The New York Times Book Review, American Theatre, Catapult, Astrobites, and elsewhere. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and son.
"Ostensibly a book about aliens, The Possibility of Life is really a treatise about how we think about the world – and the ways in which our discoveries fuel our imaginations, and vice versa. Thoughtful, witty and profound, Jaime Green has crafted a dazzling feat of imagination and synthesis that had me hooked from the first page"
– Ed Yong, New York Times-bestselling author of I Contain Multitudes and An Immense World
"Jaime Green's The Possibility of Life takes the reader on an utterly gripping, endlessly surprising voyage from the "hopeful monsters" of early multicellular organisms to the records of human existence hurtling beyond the edge of our solar system. Green's voice is rigorous, curious, tender, and often rightfully bemused. She is the best company I could imagine for this journey to the limits of what we can imagine, and a thrilling ruminator on what these acts of imagination might teach us about ourselves"
– Leslie Jamison, New York Times-bestselling author of The Empathy Exams