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Astrobiology: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 24 Oct 2013
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Although this is a very short introduction, it is very comprehensive. The subject is introduced and pursued with a workman-like manner, getting down to the essentials directly. (The Skeptic, Norman Hansen)
About the Author
David Catling is a Professor of Earth and Space Sciences. After a doctorate at the University of Oxford, he worked as a planetary scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center near San Francisco, from 1995-2001. In 2001, he was appointed as one of the world's first astrobiology professors at the University of Washington in Seattle. From 2005-2008, Prof. Catling was European Union Marie Curie Chair in Earth System and Planetary Studies at the University of Bristol, before returning to Seattle in 2009. He has taught astrobiology courses for over a decade and has published over eighty papers and articles in areas ranging from the geology of Mars, to the biochemistry of complex life, to the co-evolution of Earth's atmosphere and biosphere.
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Top Customer Reviews
It was always thus, of course. For the more you study, the less you realise that you know and one book leads to another.
Written by Professor David Catling from the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the Astrobiology Program, University of Washington in Seattle, there is no question that the work is authoritative and the facts and hypotheses stated are of the highest quality. It is designed for a lay reader, albeit one with a better science background than I, and I did have to read certain passages twice to appreciate the meaning. I did, however, find myself at home with species classification and other areas where I had a fair grounding. My geology knowledge also stood me well when it came of examining crust formation and general topography and periodic attendance at science lectures assisted with the topic of extraterrestrial life.
The book itself has wide ranging coverage. We have brief information on the creation of the Universe and the creation of the planets and stars (great fun) and the Professor then looks at specifics.
I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the evolution of life and can now appreciate how slow this actually was. There is also a description of extinction at various periods. A happy appreciation was the fact that microbial activity developed in an anaerobic environment - yes, it had to be so.Read more ›
Even though the title of this book is Astrobiology (i.e. the study of life outside of the earth), most of the book dedicated to our understanding of the conditions and processes on Earth itself that had lead to emergence of life. Even though the kind of life that we are most familiar with on Earth might be very atypical of the life in the rest of the universe, the sheer diversity of physical conditions under which earthly life has been capable of thriving gives us hope that we can possibly find life under similar conditions elsewhere. There are, however, certain main conditions that need to obtain for any sort of life that we can conceive of to exist. Most importantly, there needs to be plenty of liquid water, or at least some other liquid substance capable of facilitating organic chemistry. Furthermore, any life that we can conceive of needs to be carbon based, as that's the only element capable of creating stable molecules of almost infinite complexity.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed this book so much I read it three times in two weeks. It is very well written and the author pulls all the various topics together in an effective and very readable... Read morePublished 22 months ago by N W Burton-White
Needed something new to engage the brain and this certainly did it, reminded me of lots of things i'd forgotten from my degree and gave me some new things to think about. Read morePublished on 21 Jun. 2014 by lesley kidney
I am an absolute fan of the Oxford Very Short Introductions, but that being said this title surprised me from the moment I opened it for it is so packed with information that I... Read morePublished on 23 Mar. 2014 by Amazon Customer
Ever wanted to know about the "origin and development of life on this and other planets" without having to take a degree first or without being made to feel like a child? Read morePublished on 20 Feb. 2014 by Andrew Kerr
A lot of the recent volumes in the very short introduction series have been disappointing. These should be a way for the interested layman to cover a subject and some recent... Read morePublished on 4 Feb. 2014 by J. Brand
Loved reading this....my brain started to whirr after a while as it described the history of the Universe and the planets and solar system... Read morePublished on 28 Jan. 2014 by Miss M. L. English
Prof. Catling has written a great little book about a subject few of us will have heard of outside of Marvel comics. Read morePublished on 15 Jan. 2014 by Deep Reader
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