Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe / Edition 1by Peter D. Ward, Donald Brownlee
Pub. Date: 12/10/2003
Publisher: Springer New York
The sweeping diversity of complex life on Earth, Ward and Brownlee argue, evolved out of an extraordinary set of physical conditions and chance events that would be extremely hard to duplicate- though not impossible. Many planets throughout the vastness of the Universe may be teeming with microbial life, but advancement beyond this stage is very rare. Everyone with… See more details below
The sweeping diversity of complex life on Earth, Ward and Brownlee argue, evolved out of an extraordinary set of physical conditions and chance events that would be extremely hard to duplicate- though not impossible. Many planets throughout the vastness of the Universe may be teeming with microbial life, but advancement beyond this stage is very rare. Everyone with an interest in the possible extent of life in the Universe and the nature of life's evolution on our own planet will be fascinated by RARE EARTH.
- Springer New York
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- 1st ed. 2000. 1st softcover printing
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)
Table of Contents
Contents Preface to the Paperback Edition
Preface to the First Edition
Introduction: The Astrobiology Revolution and the Rare Earth Hypothesis
Dead Zones of the Universe
Rare Earth Factors 1 Why Life Might Be Widespread in the Universe
2 Habitable Zones of the Universe
3 Building a Habitable Earth
4 Life’s First Appearance on Earth
5 How to Build Animals
6 Snowball Earth
7 The Enigma of the Cambrian Explosion
8 Mass Extinctions and the Rare Earth Hypothesis
9 The Surprising Importance of Plate Tectonics
10 The Moon, Jupiter, and Life on Earth
11 Testing the Rare Earth Hypotheses
12 Assessing the Odds
13 Messengers from the Stars References
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I had expected some philosophical musings and light-weight evidence to support the premise. Instead you get the best book I've read yet tracing the latest ideas on the Earth's development and geographical and biological evolution. The most recent scientific theories and fact findings are presented and discussed to bring considerable weight to the author's premise that our earth and it's biological development are rare and probably not duplicated elsewhere, except for perhaps microscopic life. If you want the most up-to-date ideas and findings on how life developed and evolved, then this is a must read. The writing is also very understandable for the non-technical person (like me) who wants the findings and interpretations without too much pendantic discussion on chemical analysis, DNA structure, rock formation, etc. Even if you really want to believe in ET and billions of Earth-like planets out there, this book is the best for presenting the tremendous circumstances necessary to create another home for higher life forms.
This is a book that if correct, could have monumental consequences in the way we look at our place in the Cosmos. While it goes against much of the current thinking on the subject, the authors do an excellent job of making a case. If complex animal life is truly rare in the Universe, we need to rethink the value of our planet, species, and all life on Earth. This book should be required reading for all high school age students.
I purchased this in hardback several years ago, perhaps about 2000 or so, and have only read it twice since then...but it is so powerful that it still stands out in my memory as an awesome book that was thought-provoking, informative, and made me grateful for the wonderful world upon which we live. I'm an accountant and freelance photographer by trade, but the authors explained complex concepts so even an "armchair astronomer" may understand the subject matter.
This book will take you in a diferent aprouch and view on how life can be found in other worlds.Not the typical'Take me to your leader'alien life,but a scientific view and real posibilities within the universe.I enjoided very much.
The book 'Rare Earth' was well written and informative, but don't you think this just assumptoins of two scientist's interpritations of gathered information set before them? Consider the unknown conditions and information of environments that wasn't available to them, their conclusions would be considerabaly different. Life itself is rare, but if it weren't, imagine the chaos and conflict that would exist, we can't even get along with our selves, be greatful it's rare and far between. Life as we know it, is life as we know it. Don't exclude the undiscovered, we can only assume what we can relate to, everything else is just guessing till proven fact.