Pub. Date:
Benjamin Cummings
Life in the Universe / Edition 2

Life in the Universe / Edition 2


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How did life form on Earth? What are the most unusual forms of life we know? How likely is life in our solar system and beyond? These questions captivate us all and drive a course of scientific discovery in this pioneering textbook. Published to critical acclaim, Life in the Universe spawned interdisciplinary science courses around the nation. The second edition synthesizes recent developments from the fast-moving field of astrobiology research, and incorporates many proven techniques for enhancing student learning through the text and accompanying media.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805347531
Publisher: Benjamin Cummings
Publication date: 11/17/2006
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 560
Product dimensions: 9.52(w) x 10.84(h) x 0.77(d)

About the Author

Jeffrey Bennett

Jeffrey Bennett, a recipient of the American Institute of Physics Science Communication Award, holds a B.A. in biophysics (UC San Diego), and an M.S. and Ph.D. in astrophysics (University of Colorado). He specializes in science and math education and has taught at every level from preschool through graduate school. Career highlights including serving 2 years as a visiting senior scientist at NASA headquarters, where he developed programs to build stronger links between research and education, and proposing and helping to develop the Voyage scale model solar system on the National Mall (Washington, DC). He is the lead author of textbooks in astronomy, astrobiology, mathematics, and statistics, and of critically acclaimed books for the public including Beyond UFOs (Princeton University Press, 2008/2011), Math for Life (Bid Kid Science, 2014), What Is Relativity? (Columbia University Press, 2014), and On Teaching Science (Big Kid Science, 2014). He is also the author of six science picture books for children, including Max Goes to the Moon, The Wizard Who Saved the World, and I, Humanity; all six have been launched to the International Space Station and read aloud by astronauts for NASA’s Story Time From Space program. Dr. Bennett lives in Boulder, CO with his wife, children, and dog. His personal website is

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak earned his B.A. in physics from Princeton University (1965) and a Ph.D. in astronomy from the California Institute of Technology (1972). He is currently a senior astronomer and Director of the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, where he helps press the search for intelligent cosmic company. For much of his career, Seth conducted radio astronomy research on galaxies and investigated the fact that these massive objects contain large amounts of unseen mass. He has worked at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia, as well as at the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute in Groningen, the Netherlands (where he learned to speak bad Dutch). Seth also founded and ran a company that produced computer animation for television. He has written more than four hundred popular articles on various topics in astronomy, technology, film, and television. A frequent fixture on the lecture circuit, Seth gives approximately 70 talks annually at both educational and corporate institutions, and he is also a frequent commentator on astronomical matters for radio and television. His book Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (National Geographic, 2009) details the latest ideas, as well as the personal experience of his day job. When he’s not trying to track down aliens, Seth can often be found behind the microphone, as host of the SETI Institute’s weekly one-hour radio show about science, Big Picture Science.

Table of Contents

Introducing Life in the Universe     1
A Universe of Life?     1
Learning Goals     1
The Possibility of Life Beyond Earth     2
The Scientific Context of the Search     4
Places to Search     8
The New Science of Astrobiology     11
The Big Picture     12
Summary of Key Concepts     13
Review Questions     14
Quick Quiz     14
Discussion Questions     15
Web Projects     15
The Science of Life in the Universe     16
Learning Goals     16
The Ancient Debate About Life Beyond Earth     17
The Copernican Revolution     25
The Nature of Modern Science     33
The Process of Science in Action: Understanding Gravity     39
The Big Picture     42
Summary of Key Concepts     43
Review Questions     44
Test Your Understanding     45
Quick Quiz     45
Short-Answer/Essay Questions     45
Quantitative Problems     46
Discussion Questions     47
Web Projects     47
The Universal Context of Life     48
Learning Goals     48
The Universe and Life     49
The Structure, Scale, and History of the Universe     51
The Nature of Worlds     70
A Universe of Matter and Energy     80
The Process of Science in Action: Changing Ideas About the Formation of the Solar System     88
The Big Picture     93
Summary of Key Concepts     94
Review Questions     95
Test Your Understanding     96
Quick Quiz     96
Short-Answer/Essay Questions     97
Quantitative Problems     97
Discussion Questions     98
Web Projects     98
Life on Earth
The Habitability of Earth     99
Learning Goals     99
Geology and Life     100
Reconstructing the History of Earth and Life     102
The Hadean Earth and the Dawn of Life     116
Geology and Habitability     120
Climate Regulation and Change     132
The Process of Science in Action: Formation of the Moon     139
The Big Picture     143
Summary of Key Concepts     144
Review Questions     145
Test Your Understanding     146
Quick Quiz     146
Short-Answer/Essay Questions     146
Quantitative Problems     147
Discussion Questions     147
Web Projects     147
The Nature of Life on Earth     148
Learning Goals     148
Defining Life     149
Cells: The Basic Units of Life     160
Metabolism: The Chemistry of Life     167
DNA and Heredity     171
Life at the Extreme     178
The Process of Science in Action: Evolution as Science     181
The Big Picture     185
Summary of Key Concepts     186
Review Questions     187
Test Your Understanding     188
Quick Quiz     188
Short-Answer/Essay Questions     188
Quantitative Problems     189
Discussion Questions     189
Web Projects     189
The Origin and Evolution of Life on Earth     190
Learning Goals     190
Searching for Life's Origins     191
The Origin of Life     197
The Evolution of Life     206
Impacts and Extinctions     215
Human Evolution     221
The Process of Science in Action: Artificial Life     226
The Big Picture     229
Summary of Key Concepts     230
Review Questions     231
Test Your Understanding     232
Quick Quiz     232
Short-Answer/Essay Questions     233
Quantitative Problems     233
Discussion Questions     233
Web Projects     234
Life in the Solar System
Searching for Life in Our Solar System     235
Learning Goals     235
Environmental Requirements for Life     236
A Biological Tour of the Solar System: The Inner Solar System     242
A Biological Tour of the Solar System: The Outer Solar System     246
The Process of Science in Action: Spacecraft Exploration of the Solar System     251
The Big Picture     256
Summary of Key Concepts     256
Review Questions     257
Test Your Understanding     258
Quick Quiz     258
Short-Answer/Essay Questions     258
Quantitative Problems     259
Discussion Questions     259
Web Projects     259
Mars     260
Learning Goals     260
Fantasies of Martian Civilization      261
A Modern Portrait of Mars     264
The Climate History of Mars     276
Searching for Life on Mars     280
The Process of Science in Action: Martian Meteorites     287
The Big Picture     290
Summary of Key Concepts     291
Review Questions     292
Test Your Understanding     292
Quick Quiz     292
Short-Answer/Essay Questions     293
Quantitative Problems     293
Discussion Questions     293
Web Projects     294
Life on Jovian Moons     295
Learning Goals     295
The Moons of the Outer Solar System     296
Life on Jupiter's Galilean Moons     304
Life Around Saturn, and Beyond     312
The Process of Science in Action: Chemical Energy for Life     319
The Big Picture     323
Summary of Key Concepts     323
Review Questions     325
Test Your Understanding     325
Quick Quiz     325
Short-Answer/Essay Questions     326
Quantitative Problems     326
Discussion Questions     327
Web Projects     327
The Nature and Evolution of Habitability     328
Learning Goals     328
The Concept of a Habitable Zone     329
Venus: An Example in Potential Habitability     332
Surface Habitability Factors and the Habitable Zone     338
The Future of Life on Earth     343
The Process of Science in Action: Global Warming     348
The Big Picture     354
Summary of Key Concepts     355
Review Questions     356
Test Your Understanding     356
Quick Quiz     356
Short-Answer/Essay Questions     357
Quantitative Problems     357
Discussion Questions     358
Web Projects     358
Life Among the Stars
Habitability Outside the Solar System     359
Learning Goals     359
Distant Suns     360
Extrasolar Planets: Discoveries and Implications     369
The Possibility That Earth Is Rare     384
The Process of Science in Action: Classifying Stars     388
The Big Picture     393
Summary of Key Concepts     393
Review Questions     395
Test Your Understanding     395
Quick Quiz      395
Short-Answer/Essay Questions     396
Quantitative Problems     396
Discussion Questions     397
Web Projects     397
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence     398
Learning Goals     398
The Drake Equation     399
The Question of Intelligence     405
Searching for Intelligence     410
The Process of Science in Action: UFOs and Aliens on Earth     425
The Big Picture     432
Summary of Key Concepts     433
Review Questions     434
Test Your Understanding     434
Quick Quiz     434
Short-Answer/Essay Questions     435
Quantitative Problems     435
Discussion Questions     433
Web Projects     436
Interstellar Travel and the Fermi Paradox     437
Learning Goals     437
The Challenge of Interstellar Travel     438
Designing Spacecraft for Interstellar Travel     444
The Fermi Paradox     456
The Process of Science in Action: Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity     466
The Big Picture     472
Summary of Key Concepts     472
Review Questions      473
Test Your Understanding     474
Quick Quiz     474
Short-Answer/Essay Questions     475
Quantitative Problems     475
Discussion Questions     476
Web Projects     476
Epilogue: Contact-Implications of the Search and Discovery     477
Is There Life Elsewhere?     478
Discussion Questions     485
Useful Numbers     A-3
Useful Formulas     A-4
A Few Mathematical Skills     A-5
The Periodic Table of Elements     A-14
Planetary Data     A-15
Selected Astrobiology Web Sites     A-20
Glossary     G-1
References and Bibliography     R-1
Credits     C-1
Index     I-1

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