Beyond UFOs: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and Its Astonishing Implications for Our Future

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Princeton University Press, May 2, 2011 - Science - 248 pages
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The quest for extraterrestrial life doesn't happen only in science fiction. This book describes the startling discoveries being made in the very real science of astrobiology, an intriguing new field that blends astronomy, biology, and geology to explore the possibility of life on other planets. Jeffrey Bennett takes readers beyond UFOs to discuss some of the tantalizing questions astrobiologists grapple with every day: What is life and how does it begin? What makes a planet or moon habitable? Is there life on Mars or elsewhere in the solar system? How can life be recognized on distant worlds? Is it likely to be microbial, more biologically complex--or even intelligent? What would such a discovery mean for life here on Earth?

Come along on this scientific adventure and learn the astonishing implications of discoveries made in this field for the future of the human race. Bennett, who believes that "science is a way of helping people come to agreement," explains how the search for extraterrestrial life can help bridge the divide that sometimes exists between science and religion, defuse public rancor over the teaching of evolution, and quiet the debate over global warming. He likens humanity today to a troubled adolescent teetering on the edge between self-destruction and a future of virtually limitless possibilities. Beyond UFOs shows why the very quest to find alien life can help us to grow up as a species and chart a course for the stars. In a new afterword, Bennett shares the most recent developments in extrasolar research, and discusses how they might further our quest to find alien life.

 

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Contents

1 Worlds beyond Imagination
1
2 What Makes It Science?
22
3 What I Know about Aliens
41
4 What Is Life?
62
5 Getting Life Started
87
6 The Makings of a Truly Great Planet
111
7 Life in the Solar System
137
8 Life among the Stars
161
9 The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
184
10 Where Is Everybody?
197
TO LEARN MORE
207
AFTERWORD TO THE PAPERBACK EDITION
209
INDEX
221
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Jeffrey Bennett is an astrophysicist, author, and educator. His books include leading college-level textbooks in astrobiology, astronomy, mathematics, and statistics, as well as the award-winning children's book "Max Goes to the Moon".

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