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Five Billion Years of Solitude Paperback – 27 Nov 2014

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: CURRENT; Reprint edition (27 Nov. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1617230162
  • ISBN-13: 978-1617230165
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 380,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Graceful... the best book I have read about exoplanets, and one of the few whose language approaches the grandeur of a quest that is practically as old as our genes."
--"New York Times Book Review"
"Will leave readers who aren't rocket scientists slack-jawed"
--"New York Times"
"Billings performs a brilliant sleight of hand...the ending is a poignant reminder that humankind may yet find a way to the stars, but people -- the ones we know, the ones we love, the ones we lose -- are our entire history and our full universe."
--"The Washington Post"
"The search for Earth-like worlds orbiting distant stars is just a step in the age-old quest to learn whether or not we are alone in the universe. In his compelling, wide-ranging survey, Billings steps back to look at this broader picture, largely through richly textured portraits of some of the giants of the field...[an] extraordinary tale of scientific discovery."
--"Scientific American"
"Fascinating... A great outline of the subject, bringing what's often treated as science fiction down to Earth where it can be understood."
--Kirkus Reviews
"Exoplanet detection is space science's hottest field, one which science writer Billings surveys here with exceptional clarity while peering over the shoulders of the planet hunters' leading pioneers...a fascinating and informative read for both casual and serious astronomy buffs."
--"Booklist"
"Readers will find ["Five Billion Years of Solitude"] incredibly engaging...Billings has created a book that is not only entertaining, but educational as well."
- "Universe Today"
"Billings communicates scientific and technical detail fluently, and there is much here to please any geek who does not already know how, say, it is possible to see a distant planet next to a star that outshines it as an exploding nuclear bomb does an unlit match."
--"The Guardian"
"Astrobiology, the study of alien life, has been a dream--until now. Suddenly the detection of life on other planets no longer seems quite so peculiar. Lee Billings explains how the impossible dream became possible after all."
--"The Economist "Books of the year""

Graceful... the best book I have read about exoplanets, and one of the few whose language approaches the grandeur of a quest that is practically as old as our genes."
"New York Times Book Review"
Will leave readers who aren t rocket scientists slack-jawed
"New York Times"
Billings performs a brilliant sleight of hand the ending is a poignant reminder that humankind may yet find a way to the stars, but people the ones we know, the ones we love, the ones we lose are our entire history and our full universe.
"The Washington Post"
"The search for Earth-like worlds orbiting distant stars is just a step in the age-old quest to learn whether or not we are alone in the universe.In his compelling, wide-ranging survey, Billings steps back to look at this broader picture, largely through richly textured portraits of some of the giants of the field...[an] extraordinary tale of scientific discovery."
"Scientific American"
Fascinating A great outline of the subject, bringing what's often treated as science fiction down to Earth where it can be understood.
Kirkus Reviews
Exoplanet detection is space science s hottest field, one which science writer Billings surveys here with exceptional clarity while peering over the shoulders of the planet hunters leading pioneers a fascinating and informative read for both casual and serious astronomy buffs.
"Booklist"
Readers will find ["Five Billion Years of Solitude"] incredibly engaging Billings has created a book that is not only entertaining, but educational as well.
"Universe Today"
Billings communicates scientific and technical detail fluently, and there is much here to please any geek who does not already know how, say, it is possible to see a distant planet next to a star that outshines it as an exploding nuclear bomb does an unlit match.
"The Guardian"
Astrobiology, the study of alien life, has been a dream until now. Suddenly the detection of life on other planets no longer seems quite so peculiar. Lee Billings explains how the impossible dream became possible after all.
"The Economist Books of the year ""

About the Author

Lee Billings is a science journalist whosework has appeared in "Nature," "New Scientist," "Popular Mechanics," and" Scientific American." Helives in New York."


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm generally not a big fan of technical topics being told as stories, so I went into this book with some reservations.

But I was in for a surprise. Billings has selected those elements of the stories that put the quest into context, and told each part of the story with passion. It really does make sense to tell the tale this way, as the human factors (economics, alliances, conflicts etc.) play such a key role in the development of the science and engineering of exoplanet discovery and the search for life around other stars.

The book is not overly technical, and can be read comfortably by those who just have an interest in the subject. There are plenty of notes and suggestions for further reading on each chapter for those who want to delve into a particular topic in more detail, and there's a very comprehensive index.

Overall, a superb book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was very excited to read this book, but must say I was extremely disappointed. I thought this book would be about the rapidly developing field of exoplanets. That is almost a footnote, this book rambles into oil exploration and other tenuously linked topics. I feel that the author did not have enough to write about in terms of exoplants and so wrote extensively about every related topic instead. Perhaps he felt to delve too deeply would have been too technical but even as a layman I did not enjoy this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Lee Billings has created a very diverse, rich and human story around man's journey into space exploration.

He ties neatly together themes of the human spirit, the creation of the universe, and the small but agonising part humanity plays within it.

Interviewing a range of diverse experts, he tells the story of key players in the exoplanet hunt, and clearly revels in the stories of the competition between scientific teams, and the growing knowledge base underlying it.

As a layman, I was never thrown off the compelling story of science and humanity moving forward. Occasionally, some passages become very heavily rich in scientific theory, but Billings's style is never stodgy, but rather light and lyrical, even with some of the most profound subject matter.

Thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to the next.
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