This textbook presents the emerging science of astrobiology in an interesting and mathematically non-stressful manner. Geared towards the non-science major, this book is very accessible to readers of all academic backgrounds. The first chapters cover the basics necessary for understanding the physics, geology and biology necessary for future chapters. After going through the struggles of trying to define life, the later chapters explain current sites of interest in the search for life in our own solar system and eventually, in other star systems.
I have a real fascination with astrobiology and have read quite a bit on the subject in popular science books. Despite having a science background I thought this basic textbook would be a good way of bridging into some more serious reading. This is why I found myself skipping a couple of the first chapters, particularly the ones that sought to explain the biological principles that play a part in this interdisciplinary science. While I’m familiar with the basics of some of the physics and geology involved, I did find the basic chapters for these very helpful for review as I’m not nearly as well versed in these subjects. So, despite my neglect, I do imagine the chapters I skipped to be as well written as the chapters covering other topics.
The later chapters extend the discussion to which areas in our solar system and beyond are the most likely to harbor life; why these are the most likely, and the research that came to this conclusion, are all explained in light of the completely Earth-like science we had learned previously. Attention is also given to the physics behind various spacecraft, what physical realities we would need to confront to leave our star system, and some basic ideas of how we might go about engineering such crafts.
I honestly enjoyed reading this, and that is not something I can say about many textbooks. The subject is fascinating, the writing is great and the lack of math leaves it an easy read, with mathematical asides of key equations for those interested in taking their understanding to another level. If you’re looking for an intro text on astrobiology, this is it!
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