Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe

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Springer Science & Business Media, Jan 14, 2000 - Science - 338 pages
7 Reviews
n November 12, 2002, Dr. John Chambers of the NASA Ames - search Center gave a seminar to the Astrobiology Group at the OUniversity of Washington. The audience of about 100 listened with rapt attention as Chambers described results from a computer study of how planetary systems form. The goal of his research was to answer a dec- tively simple question: How often would newly forming planetary systems produce Earth-like planets, given a star the size of our own sun? By “Ear- like” Chambers meant a rocky planet with water on its surface, orbiting within a star’s “habitable zone. ” This not-too-hot and not-too-cold inner - gion, relatively close to the star, supports the presence of liquid water on a planet surface for hundreds of million of years—the time-span probably n- essary for the evolution of life. To answer the question of just how many Earth-like planets might be spawned in such a planetary system, Chambers had spent thousands of hours running highly sophisticated modeling p- grams through arrays of powerful computers. x Preface to the Paperback Edition The results presented at the meeting were startling. The simulations showed that rocky planets orbiting at the “right” distances from the central star are easily formed, but they can end up with a wide range of water c- tent.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - elviomedeiros - LibraryThing

This is a very good book. But donīt expect much about extraterrestrial life and specifics about why life is uncommon in the universe. The book deals mostly on why life is common on Earth. It gives a ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - KeithAkers - LibraryThing

This is a rare book, a book on science which is informative and inspiring without really trying to be. If we destroy 5% of species on earth, we may be doing a lot more than just that, we may be ... Read full review

Contents

Why Life Might Be Widespread in the Universe
1
Habitable Zones of the Universe
15
Building a Habitable Earth
35
Lifes First Appearance on Earth
55
How to Build Animals
83
Snowball Earth
113
The Enigma of the Cambrian Explosion
125
Mass Extinctions and the Rare Earth Hypothesis
157
The Surprising Importance of Plate Tectonics
191
The Moon Jupiter and Life on Earth
221
Testing the Rare Earth Hypotheses
243
Assessing the Odds
257
Messengers from the Stars
277
References
289
17
332
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