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The Living Cosmos Hardcover – 28 Dec 2007

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 393 pages
  • Publisher: Random House USA Inc; First Edition edition (28 Dec. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400065062
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400065066
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.2 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,658,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'Lively, clear and up-to-date overview of astronomy, cosmology, biology and evolution, specifically as related to the search for extraterrestrial life … [Impey] does an impressive job explaining an avalanche of information, including such recent major discoveries as the first planets found orbiting distant stars. A skilful account of the universe, the nature of life and where in the universe life might occur.' Kirkus Reviews

'There has been a recent flood of books about astrobiology - the study of life in the universe - but this latest effort by astronomer Chris Impey is one of the best. It provides a solid overview of the diverse research involved … beautifully written.' The New Scientist

'Impey has written a wonderfully readable book about the chances of life existing elsewhere in the universe … But The Living Cosmos is not about just that. It is an overview of everything you need to know about the fundamentals, including how we got here and where we're probably going. More important, the science - a word that often causes eyes to glaze over - is laid out with uncommon clarity and panache.' Sara Lippincott, Los Angeles Times

'Chris Impey, one of the world's most distinguished astronomers, takes an exhaustive and illuminating look at astrobiology … Consistently engrossing and provocative, and frequently absolutely mind-blowing in its implications, The Living Cosmos is filled with scientific details but it remains accessible to readers without a background in astronomy and science. This book is most highly recommended.' Book Loons Reviews

'Impey has clearly done his research thoroughly, and interviewed a great number of the key scientists whilst writing the book … The Living Cosmos is not only comprehensive in its treatment of the great breadth of astrobiology research, but is also beautifully written. Each chapter opens with an engaging account, full of imagery, of the upcoming topic. On the whole, this is a sterling attempt at making astrobiology accessible to a general audience and I enjoyed reading it immensely.' Lewis Dartnell, Astrobiology Society of Great Britain

'Chris Impey provides a broad, accessible context for his thoughtful, engaging and up-to-date take on the quest for extra terrestrial life.' Bruce Jakosky, Nature

'Chris Impey surveys the state of the art in this exciting multidisciplinary field. Impey frames his book around three questions: How many habitable worlds are there? Is biology unique to the Earth? And are there other intelligent civilizations? Complete with a companion website featuring podcasts, video clips, interviews, news stories and original artwork, The Living Cosmos provides an eloquent summary of humankind's quest for life elsewhere.' Scientific American Book Club

'This is a book about a science that is changing our view of the universe and about what life really means and where it might exist. Impey provides us with a road map to the future of astrobiology, a map that is meant to lead us into a deeper understanding of life and man's station in the universe.' National Space Society

'5/5 stars: a constantly fascinating read in non-technical language … a superb account of where we currently stand in our quest to find alien life.' Sky at Night

'A true popular science book, if its pages don't fire your imagination, nothing will.' Astronomy Now

'… a highly entertaining read.' Spaceflight --This text refers to the Printed Access Code edition.

Book Description

Considering the development of life on Earth and the potential for life elsewhere in the Universe, this book is a fascinating insight into our place in the Universe. Accompanied by a website featuring articles on astrobiology, it is ideal for anyone wanting to know more about life and the Universe. --This text refers to the Printed Access Code edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have read a number of books on the prospects for extraterrestrial life over the years, and this is one of the best. Here are four other good ones published in recent years:

Darling, David. Life Everywhere: The Maverick Science of Astrobiology (2001
Grinspoon, David. Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life (2003)
Michaud, Michael A.G. Contact with Alien Civilizations (2007)
Webb, Stephen. Where Is Everybody?: Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life (2002)

(See my reviews at Amazon.)

Notwithstanding all this ink, astrobiology is still looking for the first object of its contemplation. But Prof. Impey is not deterred. In this outstanding work he attempts to lay the foundation for this seemingly nescient science by exploring all aspects of life on earth and comparing what he has found to environments in space. What is extraordinary about this book is the sheer breadth of knowledge that Impey displays. More than that though is the enthusiasm he brings to the subject and the readability of his prose.

The Living Cosmos is first a book about life on earth, how it might have begun and how it has evolved, and second on how that knowledge might apply to the larger cosmos. To understand this epic story and what it might imply about life in the universe as a whole it is necessary to have some understanding of many allied sciences including chemistry, geology, physics, ecology, genetics, and many others. In extrapolating what we know about life on earth to the heavens, knowledge of astronomy, cosmology, and mathematics is necessary. It is amazing that Impey is so well vested in all these subjects. Frankly I am dazzled and reminded again of how little I know.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A clear, well-researched book for the layman, this book has a breadth and scope that is truly breath-taking. It spans the microcosm of bacteria living in the most inhospitable environments to the infinity of space. As well as imparting information it asks searching questions. I found it utterly absorbing.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Chris Impey has written a book of tremendous depth, covering the origins of the Universe, the start of life on eath and the possibilities, nay probability of life elsewhere in the Universe, in neighbouring planets, in nearby galaxies, in the outer Universe, and in parallel universes. His style is clear and entertaining, and his narrative draws the reader on. Veritably a tour de force!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a comprehensive overview of the astrophysics of whether life exists out there, but does so in a comprehensible way.
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