Astronomers' Universe

Stardust, Supernovae and the Molecules of Life

Might We All Be Aliens?

Authors: Boyd, Richard

  • Gives a detailed description of handedness of the amino acids, a critical element in understanding their origin, as well as a plausible model by which their handedness could have been produced
  • Relates everything to basic physical properties and forces of nature, written in lay person language, which no other book on the molecules of life does
  • Offers discussions of some fascinating aspects of modern physics that impinge on the question of amino acid origin, e.g., the big bang, neutrino physics, and supernovae
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  • ISBN 978-1-4614-1332-5
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  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Softcover $34.95
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-4614-1331-8
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  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Rent the ebook  
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About this book

Where were the amino acids, the molecules of life, created: perhaps in a lightning storm in the early Earth, or perhaps elsewhere in the cosmos? This book argues that at least some of them must have been produced in the cosmos, and that the fact that the Earthly amino acids have a specific handedness provides an important clue for that explanation. The book discusses several models that purport to explain the handedness, ultimately proposing a new explanation that involves cosmic processing of the amino acids produced in space. The book provides a tour for laypersons that includes a definition of life, the Big Bang, stellar nucleosynthesis, the electromagnetic spectrum, molecules, and supernovae and the particles they produce.

About the authors

Dr. Richard Boyd was the Science Director of the National Ignition Facility, Lawrence Livermore National Lab from 2007-2010 and now serves as a staff physicist at LLNL. He earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Minnesota in 1967, and has been a physics professor at the University of Rochester from 1972 to 1978 and a professor of physics and astronomy at Ohio State University from 1984 to 2002. Dr. Boyd also served as a program officer at the National Science Foundation from 2002 to 2006, managing the NSF portfolios in nuclear and particle astrophysics as well as nuclear physics. Following that, he was a visiting professor at the National Astronomical Observatory in Japan. Dr. Boyd has enjoyed a research career that resulted in more than 200 publications, both experimental and theoretical, and one graduate-level textbook on nuclear astrophysics. He was awarded an Outstanding Scholar award from Ohio State University in 1982, and was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was named an honorary Native American of the Santa Clara Pueblo in 1997, and an Eminent Scientist of the Institute for Physical and Chemical Research in Japan in 1998-1999.

Reviews

From the reviews:

“Book shows the reader first the beginning of atoms and molecules, and how they formed, and then continues with the intriguing question of chirality in molecules, and in amino acids in particular. … presented in an easily understandable way with several schematics and images to explain some of the concepts. … presents an interesting topic, that is certainly exciting and informative for the general reader, showing connections between various fields of research, and different astronomical objects and life on Earth.” (Kadri Tinn, AstroMadness.com, April, 2014)

“Boyd … presents a summary of his work and that of his colleagues in which the left-handed symmetry is postulated to result from exposure of the amino acids to circularly polarized starlight during their formation in space. … the book serves as an in-depth introduction to the topic of the extraterrestrial origin of amino acids. … The text is very lucid and accessible to general readers … . Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through graduate students; informed general readers.” (A. Spero, Choice, Vol. 49 (11), August, 2012)

Table of contents (9 chapters)

  • Introduction

    Boyd, Richard N.

    Pages 1-19

  • What is the Origin of the Lightest Elements?

    Boyd, Richard N.

    Pages 21-39

  • What is the Origin of the Rest of the Elements?

    Boyd, Richard N.

    Pages 41-64

  • Creation of Molecules in the Interstellar Medium

    Boyd, Richard N.

    Pages 65-86

  • Amino Acids and Chirality

    Boyd, Richard N.

    Pages 87-106

Buy this book

eBook $24.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-4614-1332-5
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Softcover $34.95
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-4614-1331-8
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Rent the ebook  
  • Rental duration: 1 or 6 month
  • low-cost access
  • online reader with highlighting and note-making option
  • can be used across all devices
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Stardust, Supernovae and the Molecules of Life
Book Subtitle
Might We All Be Aliens?
Authors
Series Title
Astronomers' Universe
Copyright
2012
Publisher
Springer-Verlag New York
Copyright Holder
Springer Science+Business Media, LLC
eBook ISBN
978-1-4614-1332-5
DOI
10.1007/978-1-4614-1332-5
Softcover ISBN
978-1-4614-1331-8
Series ISSN
1614-659X
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XI, 215
Number of Illustrations and Tables
13 b/w illustrations, 26 illustrations in colour
Topics