Worlds of David Darling


Bookshop: Astrobiology
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GENERAL LEVEL
We Are Not Alone: Why We Have Already Discovered Extraterrestrial Life. David Darling & Dirk Schulze-Makuch (OneWorld Publications, 2010)
We Are Not Alone boldly argues that extraterrestrial life is astrobiological fact. Far from existing light-years away in the outer reaches of space, it's on our very doorstep. For persuasive evidence of microbial life, we need look no further than our celestial neighbour, Mars. Expertly probing the latest scientific research, this fascinating book provides compelling reasons to believe that extraterrestrial life is rife both in the Solar System and beyond.

Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life. David Grinspoon (Ecco, 2003)
Principal scientist at the Southwest Research Institute's department of space science, Grinspoon offers an up-to-date picture of the search for extraterrestrial life and the prospects of finding it in a universe that we now know contains other solar systems. It also covers the nearly four centuries that the search has been under way since the initial observations of Renaissance astronomers. Publishers Weekly

What Does a Martian Look Like? Jack Cohen & Ian Stewart (Wiley, 2002)
Co-authors Stewart (mathematics, Warwick University, UK) and Cohen, who is a biologist, have worked together on other science books for a general audience. In this book, writing in plain language, they intertwine biological information with discussion of the inventions of science fiction to explore how life might have evolved on other planets in the universe. Book News

Life Everywhere: The Maverick Science of Astrobiology. David Darling (Basic Books, 2002)
A lucid and surprisingly accurate introduction to the field of astrobiology and a thoughtful response to the Rare Earth hypothesis. James Kasting, Penn State Astrobiology Research Center

Darling, an astronomer and science journalist, has a knack for explaining complexities and fine details that carries his prose forward where other authors have foundered; the reader is swept up in the enthusiasm of the researchers Darling describes. Rob Lightner, Amazon.com

The Science of Aliens. Clifford Pickover (Basic Books, 1999)
Scientist and author Clifford Pickover poses the question, "Can creatures dream of things beyond their sensory capacity?" Clearly Pickover thinks humans can – to some extent, at least. To this end, he wrote The Science of Aliens, an intriguing book featuring chapters such as "What Aliens Look Like," "Origin of Alien Life," and "Alien Abduction." And, of course, "Alien Sex." Amazon.com

Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe. Peter Ward & Donald Brownlee (Copernicus Books, 2000)
Renowned paleontologist Ward (Univ. of Washington), who has authored numerous books and articles, and Brownlee, a noted astronomer who has also researched extraterrestrial materials, combine their interests, research, and collaborative thoughts to present a startling new hypothesis: bacterial life forms may be in many galaxies, but complex life forms, like those that have evolved on Earth, are rare in the universe. Library Journal

Astrobiology. Monica Grady (Smithsonian, 2001)
Grady (head of petrology and meteoritics at The Natural History Museum) provides a general reader's introduction to a relatively old area of inquiry - whether and where there is life elsewhere in the universe. Using dozens of large color photos and diagrams, she describes how life evolved on Earth, the likeliness of life in other parts of the solar system, the search for Earth-like planets, and SETI. Book News

The Life and Death of Planet Earth: How the New Science of Astrobiology Charts the Ultimate Fate of Our World. Peter Ward & Donald Brownlee (Times Books, 2003)
The science of astrobiology attempts to answer some of the big questions that have long engaged the imagination of the human race. In this fascinating follow-up to Rare Earth, geologist/zoologist Ward and astronomer Brownlee, both of the University of Washington, draw an analogy between the planet's development and the human cycles of birth, growth, maturity, and death. Library Journal

Intelligent Life in the Universe: From Common Origins to the Future of Humanity. Peter Ulmschneider (Springer, 2006)
This book addresses all science readers interested in the origins, development, and fate of intelligent species in the observable part of our universe. In particular, the author scrutinizes what kind of information about extraterrestrial intelligent life can be inferred from our own biological, cultural and scientific evolution. Publisher's description

Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Cosmos. Simon Conway Morris (Cambridge UP, 2004)
Re-run the tape of life, as Stephen J. Gould claimed, and the outcome must be entirely different: an alien world, without humans and maybe not even intelligence. The history of life is littered with accidents and any twist or turn may lead to a completely different world. Now this view is challenged in Simon Conway Morris' exploration of the evidence demonstrating life's almost eerie ability to repeatedly navigate towards a single solution. Publisher's description

Biocosm: The New Scientific Theory of Evolution – Intelligent Life is the Architect of the Universe. Seth Shostak and James Gardner (Inner Ocean, 2003)
For many years, traditional cosmologists and proponents of faith-based "intelligent design" have fought over the origin of the universe. One side maintains that pure chance can explain everything; the other that there must be a God. In Biocosm, James Gardner examines the evidence and finds a third hypothesis, one that has the approval of a number of noted skeptics and scientists. Amazon.com


ACADEMIC
Extrasolar Planets and Astrobiology. Caleb Scharf (University Science Books, 2008)
An advanced introduction to the increasingly robust fields of extrasolar planets and astrobiology. No other text currently available applies this level of mathematics and physics, while also providing an extensive grounding in key issues of chemistry, biology, and geophysics. With extensive references to the literature and chapter-ending exercises, this book can be used as the core text for teaching undergraduate or introductory graduate level courses. A continually updated online component, fully cross referenced with the text, is also available. Publisher's notes

Astrobiology : A Multi-Disciplinary Approach. Jonathan Lunine (Benjamin Cummins, 2004)
Jonathan Lunine is Professor of Planetary Sciences and Physics and chair of the Theoretical Astrophysics Program at the University of Arizona. His research interests center on the formation and evolution of planets and planetary systems, the nature of organics in the outer solar system, and the processes that lead to the formation of habitable worlds. He is an interdisciplinary scientist on the Cassini mission to Saturn, and on the James Webb Space Telescope, as well as co-investigator on a number of other existing or planned NASA missions. About the author, Amazon.com

An Introduction to Astrobiology. Iain Gilmour & Mark Sephton (eds) (Cambridge UP, 2004))
Finally, an undergraduate level textbook on astrobiology that provides the perfect entry for students interested in this burgeoning field. The profuse and well-chosen illustrations, charts and tables, the clearly written text, and the comprehensive and balanced coverage make An Introduction to Astrobiology a standout... [This book] is certain to become the gold standard for introductory astrobiology textbooks." Professor John Scalo, University of Texas at Austin

Life in the Universe: Expectations and Constraints. Dirk Schulze-Makuch & Louis Irwin (Springer, 2008)
A first-rate, very up-to-date, and rigorous treatment of the new science of astrobiology, suitable for undergraduates, graduates, and others with a serious interest in the field. Includes chapters on: Definition of Life, Lessons from the History of Life, Energy Sources and Life, Building Blocks of Life, Life and the Need for a Solvent, Habitats of Life, Ideas of Exotic Forms of Life, and Signatures of Life and the Question of Detection. 2nd edition, 2008.

The Search for Life in the Universe. Donald Goldsmith & Tobias Owen (University Science Books, 2001)
Long recognized as the "Gold Standard" text for astrobiology courses, The Search for Life in the Universe now appears in a completely revised and updated Third Edition. This book engages students in astronomy by presenting a great, unsolved mystery: How likely is life beyond earth, and how can we find it if it exists? Publisher's description

Quite possibly the best astrobiology text available. International Journal of Astrobiology

The Living Universe: NASA and the Development of Astrobiology. Steven Dick & James Strick (Rutgers UP, 2005))
This is a wonderful book by two of the best historians of biology in the business. Michael Ruse, author of Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose?

The detailed and thorough research underpinning this book is truly remarkable. Frank Drake, senior scientist and director of the Center for the Study of Life in the Universe, SETI Institute

The Extraterrestrial Life Debate, 1750-1900. Michael J. Crowe (Dover, 1999)
This is the first detailed, scholarly study in English of the many varied astronomical, philosophical and religious ideas that developed between 1750 and 1900 regarding the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life. The author examines the great extent to which prominent historical figures (Kant, Herschel, Paine, Lowell, etc.) engaged the issue, and demonstrates the powerful effect the question has had on Western intellectual life. Publisher's description