Beyond UFOs: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and Its Astonishing Implications for Our Future (New in Paper)

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"With the possible exception of the God question, I can think of no subject that has inspired such wide-eyed wonder and speculation as the matter of whether or not we are alone in the cosmos. The search for extraterrestrial intelligence today has almost theological status in terms of its implications, and yet it is a rigorous science conducted by world-class scientists. Jeffrey Bennett's book is one of the finest primers on this burgeoning new field. And even though this can be a technically daunting science, Bennett's highly readable prose

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

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Overview

"With the possible exception of the God question, I can think of no subject that has inspired such wide-eyed wonder and speculation as the matter of whether or not we are alone in the cosmos. The search for extraterrestrial intelligence today has almost theological status in terms of its implications, and yet it is a rigorous science conducted by world-class scientists. Jeffrey Bennett's book is one of the finest primers on this burgeoning new field. And even though this can be a technically daunting science, Bennett's highly readable prose invites everyone into the dome to gaze through the telescope to have a look for themselves, for this is a journey we are all on together."—Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic and columnist for Scientific American

"Bennett describes the search for life beyond the Earth in terms that are accessible to the nonscientist and yet reveal a broad understanding of the evolution of stars, planets, and organisms. The author's optimism is contagious. May it help inspire us to actually accomplish these lofty goals."—James F. Kasting, Pennsylvania State University

"Precise, accurate, lucid, and engaging. This is popular-science writing at its best. I enjoyed reading this book."—Christopher McKay, NASA Ames Research Center

"This is a fascinating book about the living universe, well-written and timely."—David Morrison, coauthor of The Planetary System and Voyages to the Planets

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Editorial Reviews

Books & Culture
Beyond UFOs is a rich, slow, and rewarding read. Rich because it is full of some of the most interesting current interdisciplinary science regarding planets and life that you can find, blending astronomy, geology, history, and astrobiology in a single narrative. Slow because each page is so full of interesting content that you don't want to skim. Rewarding because Bennett is simply a fantastic writer and presenter, making the read thoroughly enjoyable. No science expertise required.
— Jennifer Wiseman
Times Higher Education - Lisa Jardine-Wright
The old adage 'don't judge a book by its cover' (or, in this case, its title) certainly applies here. While one might expect a book of science fiction, Bennett presents this awe-inspiring topic in a scientifically accurate but personal way. I would recommend it to anyone interested in reading a creative summary of the status of the search for life elsewhere in the universe and would hope that it might provide a starting point to inspire the next generation of astronomers and astrobiologists.
New Scientist - Michael Brooks
[Jeffrey Bennett] has taken a break from the treadmill of updating his textbook and has written a popular book instead, bringing the rest of us up to date on our extraordinary new and expanded universe—and on who else might live in it . . . Beyond UFOs is crammed with neat analogies, startling imagery and mind-blowing illustrations of astronomical concepts. If you want to understand the universe and our place in it, you will not find a better primer. The first diagram alone—which shows how Earth's 10,000-kilometre span of real estate fits into a supercluster of galaxies a billion trillion kilometers across—bear a good 10 minutes of study. This truth is astonishing, and humbling—and Beyond UFOs is a great place to find it.
Seattle Times - Fred Bortz
Planet by planet, moon by moon, [Beyond UFOs] explores the possibility of life elsewhere in this solar system. It then speculates about other solar systems in our galaxy where, according to the prevailing scientific view, simple life almost surely exists and intelligent life is plausible. For the most part, Bennett's search for extraterrestrial life adds up to a very satisfying package. . . . At its core, this book delivers a combination that is hard to beat: solid yet highly speculative science plus accessible prose that add up to an out-of-this-world reading experience.
The Boston Globe - Matthew Battles
Bennett walks us through the daunting calculations that lead to the conclusion that the existence of life elsewhere is not only possible, but highly likely. But as we wonder where else life exists and what forms it might take, scientists are forced back to more fundamental questions. What is the nature of life itself? Will we know it if we see it?...Bennett offers a host of lessons here not only about global warming and environmental degradation, but our place in the universe as well.
Astronomy Now - Steve Ringwood
This exploration of potential alien life is a timely work, just as the steadily increasing discoveries of extra-solar planets makes the possibility of finding alien life more plausible. . . . [Beyond UFOs] is a fully rounded examination of the subject, accessible to all. I guarantee that after reading this book you will be watching space probe results that much more closely. And maybe, you will be watching the skies too!
Choice - B.R. Parker
Particularly enjoyable is the down-to-earth writing; Bennett, an astrophysicist, author, and educator, tells the reader exactly how he feels about various topics (even the role of God in the scheme of things). Readers may not agree with everything he says, but he does offer food for thought.
The Observatory - Elizabeth Griffin
Beyond UFOs gives a good impression from the moment you first take it into your hands. It is attractively produced, well written, and very thoroughly proofread. It's an interesting and challenging complement to focused research, and will be particularly enjoyed by anyone who has an appetite for broad science tinged with morals.
Books & Culture - Jennifer Wiseman
Beyond UFOs is a rich, slow, and rewarding read. Rich because it is full of some of the most interesting current interdisciplinary science regarding planets and life that you can find, blending astronomy, geology, history, and astrobiology in a single narrative. Slow because each page is so full of interesting content that you don't want to skim. Rewarding because Bennett is simply a fantastic writer and presenter, making the read thoroughly enjoyable. No science expertise required.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2010 US Review of Books's Eric Hoffer Book Award in Culture

Winner of the 2009 Silver Nautilus Book Awards in Cosmology/New Science

Finalist for the 2008 Eugene M. Emme Astronautical Literature Award, American Astronautical Society

"In cogent and entertaining language, astrophysicist and popular writer Bennett explains that the determining factor in whether we can locate intelligent life elsewhere in the universe is whether such a civilization—and our own—can continue long enough to develop the highly sophisticated technology needed for interstellar travel...Bennett does a wonderful job of explaining the conditions necessary for simple life, how we might discern its existence and where we should be looking. He then does the same thing for intelligent life. While he is fair to those who believe life is incredibly rare, he makes a compelling case that life is likely to be abundant."—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"The old adage 'don't judge a book by its cover' (or, in this case, its title) certainly applies here. While one might expect a book of science fiction, Bennett presents this awe-inspiring topic in a scientifically accurate but personal way. I would recommend it to anyone interested in reading a creative summary of the status of the search for life elsewhere in the universe and would hope that it might provide a starting point to inspire the next generation of astronomers and astrobiologists."—Lisa Jardine-Wright, Times Higher Education

"[Jeffrey Bennett] has taken a break from the treadmill of updating his textbook and has written a popular book instead, bringing the rest of us up to date on our extraordinary new and expanded universe—and on who else might live in it . . . Beyond UFOs is crammed with neat analogies, startling imagery and mind-blowing illustrations of astronomical concepts. If you want to understand the universe and our place in it, you will not find a better primer. The first diagram alone—which shows how Earth's 10,000-kilometre span of real estate fits into a supercluster of galaxies a billion trillion kilometers across—bear a good 10 minutes of study. This truth is astonishing, and humbling—and Beyond UFOs is a great place to find it."—Michael Brooks, New Scientist

"Planet by planet, moon by moon, [Beyond UFOs] explores the possibility of life elsewhere in this solar system. It then speculates about other solar systems in our galaxy where, according to the prevailing scientific view, simple life almost surely exists and intelligent life is plausible. For the most part, Bennett's search for extraterrestrial life adds up to a very satisfying package. . . . At its core, this book delivers a combination that is hard to beat: solid yet highly speculative science plus accessible prose that add up to an out-of-this-world reading experience."—Fred Bortz, Seattle Times

"Bennett walks us through the daunting calculations that lead to the conclusion that the existence of life elsewhere is not only possible, but highly likely. But as we wonder where else life exists and what forms it might take, scientists are forced back to more fundamental questions. What is the nature of life itself? Will we know it if we see it?...Bennett offers a host of lessons here not only about global warming and environmental degradation, but our place in the universe as well."—Matthew Battles, The Boston Globe

"This exploration of potential alien life is a timely work, just as the steadily increasing discoveries of extra-solar planets makes the possibility of finding alien life more plausible. . . . [Beyond UFOs] is a fully rounded examination of the subject, accessible to all. I guarantee that after reading this book you will be watching space probe results that much more closely. And maybe, you will be watching the skies too!"—Steve Ringwood, Astronomy Now

"This is a highly readable and enjoyable book that centers on astrobiology—a discipline that melds astronomy, biology, geology—and a little bit of luck—to explore the prospect of life on other worlds. . . . Bennett is an excellent writer, taking the reader on an exploration quest to find alien life, and how difficult solar system sleuthing can be, such as on Mars, Jupiter's Europa, or on Saturn's Titan. You'll also find an excellent treatment on current activities surrounding the on-going search for extraterrestrial intelligence."—The Coalition for Space Exploration

"Particularly enjoyable is the down-to-earth writing; Bennett, an astrophysicist, author, and educator, tells the reader exactly how he feels about various topics (even the role of God in the scheme of things). Readers may not agree with everything he says, but he does offer food for thought."—B.R. Parker, Choice

"Beyond UFOs gives a good impression from the moment you first take it into your hands. It is attractively produced, well written, and very thoroughly proofread. It's an interesting and challenging complement to focused research, and will be particularly enjoyed by anyone who has an appetite for broad science tinged with morals."—Elizabeth Griffin, The Observatory
"Beyond UFOs is a rich, slow, and rewarding read. Rich because it is full of some of the most interesting current interdisciplinary science regarding planets and life that you can find, blending astronomy, geology, history, and astrobiology in a single narrative. Slow because each page is so full of interesting content that you don't want to skim. Rewarding because Bennett is simply a fantastic writer and presenter, making the read thoroughly enjoyable. No science expertise required."—Jennifer Wiseman, Books & Culture

Choice
Particularly enjoyable is the down-to-earth writing; Bennett, an astrophysicist, author, and educator, tells the reader exactly how he feels about various topics (even the role of God in the scheme of things). Readers may not agree with everything he says, but he does offer food for thought.
— B.R. Parker
Times Higher Education
The old adage 'don't judge a book by its cover' (or, in this case, its title) certainly applies here. While one might expect a book of science fiction, Bennett presents this awe-inspiring topic in a scientifically accurate but personal way. I would recommend it to anyone interested in reading a creative summary of the status of the search for life elsewhere in the universe and would hope that it might provide a starting point to inspire the next generation of astronomers and astrobiologists.
— Lisa Jardine-Wright
New Scientist
[Jeffrey Bennett] has taken a break from the treadmill of updating his textbook and has written a popular book instead, bringing the rest of us up to date on our extraordinary new and expanded universe—and on who else might live in it . . . Beyond UFOs is crammed with neat analogies, startling imagery and mind-blowing illustrations of astronomical concepts. If you want to understand the universe and our place in it, you will not find a better primer. The first diagram alone—which shows how Earth's 10,000-kilometre span of real estate fits into a supercluster of galaxies a billion trillion kilometers across—bear a good 10 minutes of study. This truth is astonishing, and humbling—and Beyond UFOs is a great place to find it.
— Michael Brooks
The Boston Globe
Bennett walks us through the daunting calculations that lead to the conclusion that the existence of life elsewhere is not only possible, but highly likely. But as we wonder where else life exists and what forms it might take, scientists are forced back to more fundamental questions. What is the nature of life itself? Will we know it if we see it?...Bennett offers a host of lessons here not only about global warming and environmental degradation, but our place in the universe as well.
— Matthew Battles
Seattle Times
Planet by planet, moon by moon, [Beyond UFOs] explores the possibility of life elsewhere in this solar system. It then speculates about other solar systems in our galaxy where, according to the prevailing scientific view, simple life almost surely exists and intelligent life is plausible. For the most part, Bennett's search for extraterrestrial life adds up to a very satisfying package. . . . At its core, this book delivers a combination that is hard to beat: solid yet highly speculative science plus accessible prose that add up to an out-of-this-world reading experience.
— Fred Bortz
Astronomy Now
This exploration of potential alien life is a timely work, just as the steadily increasing discoveries of extra-solar planets makes the possibility of finding alien life more plausible. . . . [Beyond UFOs] is a fully rounded examination of the subject, accessible to all. I guarantee that after reading this book you will be watching space probe results that much more closely. And maybe, you will be watching the skies too!
— Steve Ringwood
The Observatory
Beyond UFOs gives a good impression from the moment you first take it into your hands. It is attractively produced, well written, and very thoroughly proofread. It's an interesting and challenging complement to focused research, and will be particularly enjoyed by anyone who has an appetite for broad science tinged with morals.
— Elizabeth Griffin
The Coalition for Space Exploration
This is a highly readable and enjoyable book that centers on astrobiology—a discipline that melds astronomy, biology, geology—and a little bit of luck—to explore the prospect of life on other worlds. . . . Bennett is an excellent writer, taking the reader on an exploration quest to find alien life, and how difficult solar system sleuthing can be, such as on Mars, Jupiter's Europa, or on Saturn's Titan. You'll also find an excellent treatment on current activities surrounding the on-going search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
Publishers Weekly

In cogent and entertaining language, astrophysicist and popular writer Bennett (On the Cosmic Horizon) explains that the determining factor in whether we can locate intelligent life elsewhere in the universe is whether such a civilization-and our own-can continue long enough to develop the highly sophisticated technology needed for interstellar travel. If humans are going to meet that challenge, Bennett argues, we must solve "global warming, debilitating disease, terrorism, poverty, and war. We must use our compassion to teach all people to respect all others, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or gender." This political message is couched in fascinating and completely accessible science. Bennett does a wonderful job of explaining the conditions necessary for simple life, how we might discern its existence and where we should be looking. He then does the same thing for intelligent life. While he is fair to those who believe life is incredibly rare, he makes a compelling case that life is likely to be abundant. He also predicts that we will gather incontrovertible proof of intelligent life in the universe within the next 20 to 30 years. 8 color, 30 b&w illus. (Mar.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691149882
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 7/25/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 497,835
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

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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Table of Contents

Preface Alien Dreams xi
Acknowledgments xv
Chapter 1: Worlds beyond Imagination 1
Chapter 2: What Makes It Science? 22
Chapter 3: What I Know about Aliens 41
Chapter 4: What Is Life? 62
Chapter 5: Getting Life Started 87
Chapter 6: The Makings of a Truly Great Planet 111
Chapter 7: Life in the Solar System 137
Chapter 8: Life among the Stars 161
Chapter 9: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence 184
Chapter 10: Where Is Everybody? 197
To Learn More 207
Afterword 209
Index 221

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