The big question

Posted by Francis Reddy
on Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Is there life elsewhere in the galaxy? Science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke broke it down this way: “There are two possibilities, Maybe we’re alone. Maybe we’re not. Both are equally frightening.”

Clarke’s summation concludes Bruce Jakosky’s new book, Science, Society, and the Search for Life in the Universe, (University of Arizona Press, 2006). The book is an accessible introduction to the burgeoning field of astrobiology, study of the origin, evolution, and distribution of life within the universe. It’s a fast-growing field and one of the few science areas that attracts intense public interest.

Jakosky looks at the search for life in the universe from both scientific and social perspectives. Topics include the contradiction between public fascination and the meager dialogue between those within the scientific community and those outside of it, NASA’s public relations juggernaut, and political wrangling over science funding.

Jakosky is a geology professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and heads the school’s astrobiology efforts as part of the larger NASA Astrobiology Institute initiative. He’s also involved with Mars Science Laboratory, a sophisticated six-wheeled rover slated for arrival at the Red Planet in 2010.

The book in brief: Science, Society, and the Search for Life in the Universe, Bruce Jakosky, 150 pages, University of Arizona Press, 2006; paperback, $17.95

To leave a comment you must be a member of our community.
Login to your account now, or register for an account to start participating.
No one has commented yet.
Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.


Receive news, sky-event information, observing tips, and more from Astronomy's weekly email newsletter. View our Privacy Policy.

Find us on Facebook