Copernicus

Rare Earth

Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe

Authors: Ward, Peter D., Brownlee, Donald

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About this book

In November 12, 2002, Dr. John Chambers of the NASA Ames Research Center gave a seminar to the Astrobiology Group at the University of Washington. The audience of about 100 listened with rapt attention as Chambers described results from a computer study of how planetary systems form. The goal of his research was to answer a deceptively simple question: How often would newly forming planetary systems produce Earth-like planets, given a star the size of our own sun? By “Earth-like” Chambers meant a rocky planet with water on its surface, orbiting within a star’s “habitable zone. ” This not-too-hot and not-too-cold inner region, relatively close to the star, supports the presence of liquid water on a planet surface for hundreds of million of years—the time-span probably necessary for the evolution of life. To answer the question of just how many Earth-like planets might be spawned in such a planetary system, Chambers had spent thousands of hours running highly sophisticated modeling programs through arrays of powerful computers. The results presented at the meeting were startling. The simulations showed that rocky planets orbiting at the “right” distances from the central star are easily formed, but they can end up with a wide range of water content. Earth seems to be quite a gem—a rocky planet where not only can liquid water exist for long periods of time, but where water can be found as a heathy oceanful—not too little and not too much. Our planet seems to reside in a benign region of the Galaxy, where comet and asteroid bombardment is tolerable and habitable-zone planets can commonly grow to Earth size. Such real estate in our galaxy—perhaps in any galaxy—is prime for life. And rare as well.

Reviews

"...likely to cause a revolution in thinking..."
The New York Times

"...[the book] has hit the world of astrobiologists like a killer asteroid..."
Newsday (New York)

"...a sobering and valuable perspective..."
Science

"...a startling new hypothesis..."
Library Journal

"...Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee offer a powerful argument..."
The Economist
"...provocative, significant, and sweeping..."
Northwest Science & Technology

"...a stellar example of clear writing..."
American Scientist


Table of contents (13 chapters)

Table of contents (13 chapters)
  • Why Life Might Be Widespread in the Universe

    Pages 1-13

  • Habitable Zones of the Universe

    Pages 15-33

  • Building a Habitable Earth

    Pages 35-54

  • Life’s First Appearance on Earth

    Pages 55-81

  • How to Build Animals

    Pages 83-112

Buy this book

eBook 21,39 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • ISBN 978-0-387-21848-9
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Softcover 29,11 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • ISBN 978-0-387-95289-5
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Institutional customers should get in touch with their account manager
  • Covid-19 shipping restrictions
  • Usually ready to be dispatched within 3 to 5 business days, if in stock
  • The final prices may differ from the prices shown due to specifics of VAT rules
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Rare Earth
Book Subtitle
Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe
Authors
Copyright
2000
Publisher
Copernicus
Copyright Holder
Springer-Verlag New York
eBook ISBN
978-0-387-21848-9
DOI
10.1007/b97646
Softcover ISBN
978-0-387-95289-5
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XXXIV, 338
Topics