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Posted November 18, 2013
Flashes of brilliance, but overall too mired in fine points while missing out on the big picture.
Following the rave review 'Five Billion Years' received in the New York Times, I was hoping for a volume that would delve into the existential potential that the booming exoplanet field offers.
Instead, a book whose subject held the promise of Jim Holt's moving and brilliant 'Why Does the World Exist' instead falls too often into scientific explanation that can be too complicated for even a well-informed reader to follow with interest or awe. While the book has flashes of truly inspiring take-aways, those are too far apart. The pages would have been better used with more direct interviews with the scientists leading the exoplanet explorations, and less on satellite acronyms. It is when 'Five Billion Years' touches upon the potential consequences of the field of study that it really shines. It's a book with incredible potential that, in the end, reads a bit too much like one very long article for a scientific journal and less like the real adventure that the exoplanet search must surely be.
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