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Astrobiology: A Brief Introduction [Paperback]

Kevin W. Plaxco , Michael Gross
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

11 May 2006

Astrobiology—the study of the intimate relationship between life and the cosmos—is a fast-growing field that touches on aspects of cosmology, astrophysics, and chemistry. In the first scholarly overview of this dynamic field, biochemists Kevin W. Plaxco and Michael Gross tell the story of life from the Big Bang to the present.

Emphasizing the biochemical nature of astrobiology, Plaxco and Gross examine the origin of the chemical elements, the events behind the developments that made the Universe habitable, and the ongoing sustenance of life. They discuss the formation of the first galaxies and stars, the diverse chemistry of the primordial planet, the origins of metabolism, the evolution of complex organisms, and the feedback regulation of Earth's climate. They also explore life in extreme habitats, potential extraterrestrial habitats, and the search for extraterrestrial life.

This broadly accessible introduction captures the excitement, controversy, and evolution of the dynamic young field of astrobiology. It shows clearly how scientists from different disciplines can combine their special knowledge to enhance our understanding of the Universe.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press (11 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801883679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801883675
  • Product Dimensions: 22.7 x 15.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,331,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

The authors have provided a comprehensive yet concise introduction to the field.

(The Space Review)

Certainly the most readable introduction to astrobiology now available.

(Chemical and Engineering News 2006-01-00)

Well-written... Technical enough to demand some background in physics, chemistry, and earth science, general readers will benefit from it.

(Choice 2006-01-00)

Plaxco and Gross bring us as close to aliens as we can currently get. I recommend this book to anyone interested in science's newest kid on the block.

(Steve Ringwood Astronomy Now 2006-01-00)

Comprehensive... A good read for all those who are fascinated by the search for extraterrestrial life and the origin of life on our own planet. I shall certainly value it in my own library.

(Anthony Campbell Chemistry World 2007-01-00)

An accessible guide to this young and interdisciplinary field.

(Physics World 2006-01-00)

The fascinating world of extremophiles is well presented, and a broad overview of the searches for evidence of life beyond Earth rounds off the book. The text is liberally illustrated with relevant figures that greatly enhance the content, and entertaining snippets of information detailing the quirks of research in this field nicely supplement the scientific content.

(Astrobiology)

Review

Certainly the most readable introduction to astrobiology now available.

(Chemical and Engineering News)

Plaxco and Gross bring us as close to aliens as we can currently get. I recommend this book to anyone interested in science's newest kid on the block.

(Astronomy Now)

A good read for all those who are fascinated by the search for extraterrestrial life and the origin of life on our own planet. I shall certainly value it in my own library.

(Chemistry World)

An accessible guide to this young and interdisciplinary field.

(Physics World)

The fascinating world of extremophiles is well presented, and a broad overview of the searches for evidence of life beyond Earth rounds off the book. The text is liberally illustrated with relevant figures that greatly enhance the content, and entertaining snippets of information detailing the quirks of research in this field nicely supplement the scientific content.

(Astrobiology)

A comprehensive yet concise introduction to the field.

(The Space Review) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
Erwin Schrodinger (1887-1961), reluctant cofounder of quantum mechanics, 1933 Nobel laureate in physics, and author of a famous thought experiment involving cruelty to felines, was used to speaking his mind. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A charming book on a charming subject ! 20 July 2006
Format:Paperback
If you enjoy biology, biochemistry and astronomy then astrobiology is the right subject for you and this book is the very best start you can get into this highly exciting field of scientific research. It is very clearly written, it provides you with a very honest account of the field, and it addresses fundamental questions, as for instance, `What is life'? (Did you ever come to think about this lately?) Moreover, it contains a lot of curious facts that you will be delighted to know about. You can read it either as an introductory textbook to the field or as a popular science book on the subject. This book really boosted my interest in astrobio and I'm very keen on learning more about it. Buy it now!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to a complex subject 18 Jun 2007
Format:Paperback
The new(ish) science of Atsrobiology, which has also, in it's brief history, been known as Bioastronomy and Exobiology, can be a very complex and difficult subject.

In particluar information about what contitutes life and living things - DNA, RNA, amino acids. double helixes - can be mind numbing and offputting.

This brief introduction does not fall into that trap but explains this aspect of the subject clearly and concisely.

It also has a very clear explanation about the formation of the planets and why the rocky planets and gas giants form where they do.

Anyone who wants to "keep it very simple" can just read the main next. Those who want to go a stage further can read the boxes (the "sidebars".

Having read this book, I now feel able to tackle my other "introductions" to Astrobiology.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants a reasonably simple introduction, especially those like me, who have found other books a bit perplexing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Astrobiology Book 7 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase
I am still ploughing through this but am enjoying it immensely. For someone like me though, who has no previous knowledge of chemistry, it's been an uphill struggle to understand all the references - to really appreciate this book I do think you need a basic knowledge of chemistry. I actually think I will reread it with a notebook on chemistry so I can really get my head round all the ideas. Very good book though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase
A very interesting book that will appeal to someone with a little experience in areas such as chemistry and biology as the book goes through complex chemical interactions and basic biology very quickly - and it lacks a glossary for some of the terms used and therefore this book will be useful for undergraduates in astronomy or those in related sciences.

Having said the above, the book is written in a conversational style and is very engaging and useful for those, like myself, who are studying this area, although as I say it could do with a glossary.

However, if you are looking for a popular science book that lacks the complex descriptions of chemicals, biology and interactions then there are others available.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Astrobiology 1 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Amazon Verified Purchase
I have looked through the table of contents and dipped into parts of the book and this looks a really interesting read. I have not read it yet, I am saving it up as- treat to read when I have got enough time to read it, and understand it and enjoy it.
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