Astrobiology: A Brief Introduction
Astrobiology — the study of the intimate relationship between life and the cosmos — is a fast-growing field that touches on aspects of cosmology, astrophysics, and chemistry. In the first scholarly overview of this dynamic field, biochemists Kevin W. Plaxco and Michael Gross tell the story of life from the Big Bang to the present.
Emphasizing the biochemical nature of astrobiology, Plaxco and Gross examine the origin of the chemical elements, the events behind the developments that made the Universe habitable, and the ongoing sustenance of life. They discuss the formation of the first galaxies and stars, the diverse chemistry of the primordial planet, the origins of metabolism, the evolution of complex organisms, and the feedback regulation of Earth’s climate. They also explore life in extreme habitats, potential extraterrestrial habitats, and the search for extraterrestrial life.
This broadly accessible introduction captures the excitement, controversy, and evolution of the dynamic young field of astrobiology. It shows clearly how scientists from different disciplines can combine their special knowledge to enhance our understanding of the Universe.
About the Author(s)
Kevin W. Plaxco is an associate professor of chemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Michael Gross is a science writer based at Oxford.
Brilliant Book For The Armchair Scientist , September 27, 2006
Imagine that your best friend were some brilliant world-famous scientist. Now imagine that the two of you were sharing a beer one night, and you carelessly asked the question: "I wonder if there is life elsewhere in the Universe?"
This book would be his answer.
"Astrobiology," by Kevin Plaxco and Michael Gross, is the perfect book for the armchair scientist. It should sit on your bookshelf beside Hawking’s "Brief History of Time." It would also be an excellent book for the curious undergraduate.
Plaxco and Gross fill the book with easy, accessible prose, and lots of great science. Best of all, the sidebars, with which the book is liberally sprinkled. They make you feel like you are busy bending an elbow with a scientist that has a wicked sense of humor. After all, how many science books can you think of that use the word `flummoxed’?
If the "Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy" had a chapter on astrobiology, this would be it.