The Living Universe: Nasa And the Development of Astrobiology
"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 Living Universe is a comprehensive, historically nuanced study of the formation of the new scientific discipline of exobiology and its transformation into astrobiology. Among many other themes, the authors analyze how research on the origin of life became wedded to the search for life on other planets and for extraterrestrial intelligence. Many scientific breakthroughs of the last forty years were either directly supported or indirectly spun off from NASA’s exobiology program, including cell symbiosis, the discovery of the Archaea, and the theories of Nuclear Winter and the asteroid extinction of the dinosaurs.
Exobiology and astrobiology have generated public fascination, enormous public relations benefits for NASA, and––on the flip side of the coin––some of the most heated political wrangling ever seen in government science funding. Dick and Strick provide a riveting overview of the search for life throughout the universe, with all of the Earthly complexities of a science-in-the-making and the imperfect humans called scientists. Their book will appeal to biologists, historians and philosophers of science, planetary scientists (including geologists), and an educated general readership interested in the investigation of life on other planets. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author(s)
Steven J. Dick is the chief historian at NASA and associate editor of the International Journal of Astrobiology. Among his books are Sky and Ocean Joined: The U.S. Naval Observatory, 1830–2000 , The Biological Universe, and Life on Other Worlds, which has been translated into four languages. James E. Strick is the author of Sparks of Life: Darwinism and the Victorian Debates over Spontaneous Generation. He is an assistant professor in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at Franklin and Marshall College. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Excellent history of astrobiology, January 23, 2005
Dick and Strick present a history of astrobiological research from the 1950’s to the present time. The reader is treated – and I mean treated – to wonderful expositions of the politics and science of NASA’s involvement in astrobiology. Featuring early origin of life research, the Viking mission, and the Mars meteorite (among other topics), this work will appeal to scientists and historians alike. Most importantly, it is accessible to non-specialists. Well worth picking up if you are interested in astrobiology and how important that field is to the future of NASA.