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1 Burnside Astronomy- General

Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars

by

Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

An intimate history of Earth and the quest for life beyond the solar system

For 4.6 billion years our living planet has been alone in a vast and silent universe. But soon, Earth's isolation could come to an end. Over the past two decades, astronomers have discovered thousands of planets orbiting other stars. Some of these exoplanets may be mirror images of our own world. And more are being found all the time.

Yet as the pace of discovery quickens, an answer to the universe's greatest riddle still remains just out of reach: Is the great silence and emptiness of the cosmos a sign that we and our world are somehow singular, special, and profoundly alone, or does it just mean that were looking for life in all the wrong places? As star-gazing scientists come closer to learning the truth, their insights are proving ever more crucial to understanding lifes intricate mysteries and possibilities right here on Earth.

Science journalist Lee Billings explores the past and future of the "exoplanet boom" through in-depth reporting and interviews with the astronomers and

planetary scientists at its forefront. He recounts the stories behind their world-changing discoveries and captures the pivotal moments that drove them forward in their historic search for the first habitable planets beyond our solar system. Billings brings readers close to a wide range of fascinating characters, such as:

FRANK DRAKE, a pioneer who has used the worlds greatest radio telescopes to conduct the first searches for extraterrestrial intelligence and to transmit a message to the stars so powerful that it briefly outshone our Sun.

JIM KASTING, a mild-mannered former NASA scientist whose research into the Earths atmosphere and climate reveals the deepest foundations of life on our planet, foretells the end of life on Earth in the distant future, and guides the planet hunters in their search for alien life.

SARA SEAGER, a visionary and iron-willed MIT professor who dreams of escaping the solar system and building the giant space telescopes required to discover and study life-bearing planets around hundreds of the Suns neighboring stars.

Through these and other captivating tales, Billings traces the triumphs, tragedies, and betrayals of the extraordinary men and women seeking life among the stars. In spite of insufficient funding, clashing opinions, and the failings of some of our worlds most prominent and powerful scientific organizations, these planet hunters will not rest until they find the meaning of life in the infinite depths of space. Billings emphasizes that the heroic quest for other Earth-like planets is not only a scientific pursuit, but also a reflection of our own cultures timeless hopes and fears.

 

Review:

"In his efforts to put a human face on the grand hunt for 'life among the stars' — or at least a planet where life could exist — science writer Billings loses sight of the search and gets caught up in historical asides, profiles of scientists, and distracting poetic musings. His approach is novel, but all too often the results resemble just that — that is, a novel: Billings relies on interviews with researchers — including Frank Drake of the SETI ('search for extraterrestrial intelligence') Institute, MIT's Sara Seager, and the preeminent discoverer of extrasolar planets, UC Berkley's Geoff Marcy — conducted in relaxed settings: a home in Santa Cruz, a Pennsylvania farm, a family evening in Concord, Mass. Wherever his interviewees skim the surface, Billings fills readers in on the science behind the story. If he had stuck to this format, the book might havewould've worked. Instead, he muddles the narrative with chapters on, for example, the history of astronomy in the Western world and the early epochs of Earth; these topics have been covered better elsewhere. And in his section on Seager, Billings dwells longer on the tragic death of her husband than on her work. The individual pieces are interesting, but they fail to cohere. Agent: Peter Tallack, Science Factory (U.K.). (Oct. 3)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

“A definitive guide to astronomys hottest field.” —The Economist

Since its formation nearly five billion years ago, our planet has been the sole living world in a vast and silent universe. But over the past two decades, astronomers have discovered thousands of “exoplanets,” including some that could be similar to our own world, and the pace of discovery is accelerating.

In a fascinating account of this unfolding revolution, Lee Billings draws on interviews with the worlds top experts in the search for life beyond earth. He reveals how the search for exoplanets is not only a scientific challenge, but also a reflection of our cultures timeless hopes, dreams, and fears.

Synopsis:

An intimate history of Earth and the quest for life beyond the solar system

 

Since its formation nearly five billion years ago, our planet has been the sole living world in a vast and silent universe. Now, Earths isolation is coming to an end. Over the past two decades, astronomers have discovered thousands of “exoplanets” orbiting other stars, including some that could be similar to our own world. Studying those distant planets for signs of life will be crucial to understanding life's intricate mysteries right here on Earth.

 

In a firsthand account of this unfolding revolution, Lee Billings draws on interviews with top researchers. He reveals how the search for other Earth-like planets is not only a scientific pursuit, but also a reflection of our cultures timeless hopes, dreams, and fears.

 

This is a compelling story of the pioneers seeking the meaning of life in the infinite depths of space.

About the Author

Lee Billings is a science writer whose work has appeared in Nature, New Scientist, and Popular Mechanics, among other publications. He lives in New York.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781617230066
Author:
Billings, Lee
Publisher:
Current
Subject:
Astronomy
Subject:
Astronomy - General
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
20131031
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects


Science and Mathematics » Astronomy » Extraterrestrial
Science and Mathematics » Astronomy » General
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Evolution
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Astrophysics

Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars Used Hardcover
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Product details 304 pages Current - English 9781617230066 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In his efforts to put a human face on the grand hunt for 'life among the stars' — or at least a planet where life could exist — science writer Billings loses sight of the search and gets caught up in historical asides, profiles of scientists, and distracting poetic musings. His approach is novel, but all too often the results resemble just that — that is, a novel: Billings relies on interviews with researchers — including Frank Drake of the SETI ('search for extraterrestrial intelligence') Institute, MIT's Sara Seager, and the preeminent discoverer of extrasolar planets, UC Berkley's Geoff Marcy — conducted in relaxed settings: a home in Santa Cruz, a Pennsylvania farm, a family evening in Concord, Mass. Wherever his interviewees skim the surface, Billings fills readers in on the science behind the story. If he had stuck to this format, the book might havewould've worked. Instead, he muddles the narrative with chapters on, for example, the history of astronomy in the Western world and the early epochs of Earth; these topics have been covered better elsewhere. And in his section on Seager, Billings dwells longer on the tragic death of her husband than on her work. The individual pieces are interesting, but they fail to cohere. Agent: Peter Tallack, Science Factory (U.K.). (Oct. 3)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by ,
“A definitive guide to astronomys hottest field.” —The Economist

Since its formation nearly five billion years ago, our planet has been the sole living world in a vast and silent universe. But over the past two decades, astronomers have discovered thousands of “exoplanets,” including some that could be similar to our own world, and the pace of discovery is accelerating.

In a fascinating account of this unfolding revolution, Lee Billings draws on interviews with the worlds top experts in the search for life beyond earth. He reveals how the search for exoplanets is not only a scientific challenge, but also a reflection of our cultures timeless hopes, dreams, and fears.

"Synopsis" by ,
An intimate history of Earth and the quest for life beyond the solar system

 

Since its formation nearly five billion years ago, our planet has been the sole living world in a vast and silent universe. Now, Earths isolation is coming to an end. Over the past two decades, astronomers have discovered thousands of “exoplanets” orbiting other stars, including some that could be similar to our own world. Studying those distant planets for signs of life will be crucial to understanding life's intricate mysteries right here on Earth.

 

In a firsthand account of this unfolding revolution, Lee Billings draws on interviews with top researchers. He reveals how the search for other Earth-like planets is not only a scientific pursuit, but also a reflection of our cultures timeless hopes, dreams, and fears.

 

This is a compelling story of the pioneers seeking the meaning of life in the infinite depths of space.

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