Life as We Do Not Know It

Author: Peter Ward
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 9780143038498
Format: PDF, Docs
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A revealing exploration of the latest NASA research into the possibility of extraterrestrial life also poses a hypothesis about the origins of life on Earth, examining the controversial idea of creating non-DNA life in a laboratory as well as the scientific possibilities of the range of life throughout the universe. By the author of Gorgon. Reprint. 20,000 first prinitng.

Life in the Universe

Author: James Newsome Pierce
Publisher: Universal-Publishers
ISBN: 1599424517
Format: PDF, Mobi
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This book explores the science of extraterrestrial life, with a particular emphasis on the existence of intelligent alien civilizations. It introduces the reader to the basic chemistry associated with life on Earth and describes the planetary and stellar environments that allow us to exist. It also discusses the likelihood of alien life developing at other locations in our galaxy, along with the possibility that we will meet or communicate with them. This book is suitable for use as a text in an introductory "Life in the Universe" course. REVIEWS: Blog Critics Magazine written by Regis Schilken http://blogcritics.org/archives/2009/03/16/082715.php

From Dying Stars to the Birth of Life

Author: Jerry Cranford
Publisher: Nottingham University Press
ISBN: 1907284796
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Written in an informal manner, this account tells the incredible story of the birth of an entirely new field of science called Astrobiology—a field that is now investigating whether life might exist on other worlds. From the discovery that other stars in our galaxy are circled by planets to the detection of single-cell organisms found living on Earth in extremely hostile environments, this account details the recent breakthroughs made by astronomers and earth scientists over the last few decades. Based on these findings, it argues that scientists now have the technology they need to move from speculating or fantasizing about extraterrestrials to possibly providing mankind with the first definitive proof that we are not alone.

Evolution and the Emergent Self

Author: Raymond L. Neubauer
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 0231521685
Format: PDF
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Evolution and the Emergent Self is an eloquent and evocative new synthesis that explores how the human species emerged from the cosmic dust. Lucidly presenting ideas about the rise of complexity in our genetic, neuronal, ecological, and ultimately cosmological settings, the author takes readers on a provocative tour of modern science's quest to understand our place in nature and in our universe. Readers fascinated with "Big History" and drawn to examine big ideas will be challenged and enthralled by Raymond L. Neubauer's ambitious narrative. How did humans emerge from the cosmos and the pre-biotic Earth, and what mechanisms of biological, chemical, and physical sciences drove this increasingly complex process? Neubauer presents a view of nature that describes the rising complexity of life in terms of increasing information content, first in genes and then in brains. The evolution of the nervous system expanded the capacity of organisms to store information, making learning possible. In key chapters, the author portrays four species with high brain:body ratios—chimpanzees, elephants, ravens, and dolphins—showing how each species shares with humans the capacity for complex communication, elaborate social relationships, flexible behavior, tool use, and powers of abstraction. A large brain can have a hierarchical arrangement of circuits that facilitates higher levels of abstraction. Neubauer describes this constellation of qualities as an emergent self, arguing that self-awareness is nascent in several species besides humans and that potential human characteristics are embedded in the evolutionary process and have emerged repeatedly in a variety of lineages on our planet. He ultimately demonstrates that human culture is not a unique offshoot of a language-specialized primate, but an analogue of fundamental mechanisms that organisms have used since the beginning of life on Earth to gather and process information in order to buffer themselves from fluctuations in the environment. Neubauer also views these developments in a cosmic setting, detailing open thermodynamic systems that grow more complex as the energy flowing through them increases. Similar processes of increasing complexity can be found in the "self-organizing" structures of both living and nonliving forms. Recent evidence from astronomy indicates that planet formation may be nearly as frequent as star formation. Since life makes use of the elements commonly seeded into space by burning and expiring stars, it is reasonable to speculate that the evolution of life and intelligence that happened on our planet may be found across the universe.

Life from an RNA World

Author: Michael Yarus
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674050754
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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A majority of evolutionary biologists believe that we now can envision our biological predecessorsâe"not the first, but nearly the first, living beings on Earth. Life from an RNA World is about these vanished forebears, sketching them in the distant past just as their workings first began to resemble our own. The advances that have made such a pursuit possible are rarely discussed outside of bio-labs. So here, says author Michael Yarus, is an album for interested non-biologists, an introduction to our relatives in deep time, slouching between the first rudimentary life on Earth and the appearance of more complex beings. The era between, and the focus of Yarusâe(tm) work, is called the RNA world. It is RNA (ribonucleic acid) long believed to be a mere biologic copier and messenger, that offers us this glimpse into our ancient predecessors. To describe early RNA creatures, here called âeoeribocytesâe or RNA cells, Yarus deploys some basics of molecular biology. He reviews our current understanding of the tree of life, examines the structure of RNA itself, explains the operation of the genetic code, and covers much elseâe"all in an effort to reveal a departed biological world across billions of years between its heyday and ours. Courting controversy among those who question the role of âeoeribocytesâe âe"citing the chemical fragility of RNA and the uncertainty about the origin of an RNA synthetic apparatusâe"Yarus offers an invaluable vision of early life on Earth. And his book makes that early form of life, our ancestor within, accessible to all of us.

Lonely Planets

Author: David Grinspoon
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 0061748617
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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It's been nearly four decades since Carl Sagan first addressed the general public from a scientist's perspective, confronting the possibility of extraterrestrial life. We've learned a lot in those years, and planetary scientist David Grinspoon is well prepared to explore this field with a new generation of readers. In Lonely Planets, Grinspoon investigates the big questions: How widespread are life and intelligence in the cosmos? Is life on Earth an accident or in some sense the "purpose" of this universe? And how can we, working from the Earth-centric definition of "life," even begin to think about the varieties of life-forms on other planets? In accessible, lively prose, and using the topic of extraterrestrial life as a mirror with which to view human beliefs, evolution, history, and aspirations, Grinspoon takes readers on a three-part journey. History is an overview of our expanding awareness of other planets, from the observations of seventeenth-century natural philosophers to modern-day space exploration. It traces the history of our ideas on alien life to the earliest days of astronomy, and shows how these beliefs have changed with humanity's evolving self-image. Science tells the story of cosmic evolution and the evolution of life on Earth. Here, Grinspoon disputes the recent "Rare Earth hypothesis," which argues that Earth is unique for sprouting advanced life-forms, maintaining instead that life is likely to be well adapted to a wide variety of planets. He questions conventional assumptions of what is required for a planet to come to life, scrutinizing current ideas and evidence for life on Mars, Venus, and the moons of Jupiter, and challenging readers to think about other life-forms that may exist on other worlds. Belief discusses the limits of our abilities to conceptualize or communicate with intelligent aliens living on planets circling distant stars. Grinspoon speculates on what intelligent life might become, eventually, on Earth and elsewhere, and the implications, both scientific and philosophical, of these far-future evolutionary possibilities. Written with authority and edge, and rich in personal,often amusing anecdotes, Lonely Planets explores the shifting boundary between planetary science and naturalphilosophy and reveals how the search for extraterrestrial life unites our spiritual and scientific quests for connection with the cosmos.