LONDON, June 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
As NASA's Kepler space telescope detects hundreds of star systems with multiple planets, the search for life in the universe is firmly "on". Is Man alone, or do we have neighbours? If so, what do they look like, and where are they?
The evidence may be closer than we think, according to a new book from Nottingham University Press.
"From Dying Stars to the Birth of Life" by Jerry Cranford describes the new science of astrobiology - with all its fascination, but without the jargon - and then introduces us to a new breed of "planet hunting" astrobiologists who are quickly discovering we are probably not alone in the universe.
Aimed at enthusiasts and undergraduates, the book details our latest understanding on how life evolved on Earth, which is vital to understand how life might have developed elsewhere.
The book maps this fast-emerging and exciting science which is revolutionising the way scientists view the possibility of life on other planets. It explains, in simple language, and with more than 180 high resolution colour photographs and illustrations:
- How bacterial-like creatures living in the most hostile environments on Earth - within rocks located miles below ground, icebergs, boiling water, and even on the power rods in nuclear power stations - have challenged scientists' beliefs that life is complex and fragile
- How these very organisms are now believed to be the direct descendants of the earliest life forms that somehow managed to evolve almost four billion years ago when our young planet was so hostile that no form of life was believed possible
- How the rise of computers and rocket science in the second half of the 20th Century is allowing our 21st century scientists to develop amazing new tools and measuring instruments which now indicate life may be widespread throughout the universe
- And so how "homes" for alien or extraterrestrial life might be common in the universe
Jerry says that his scientific training - in psychology and the brain sciences and not astronomy - gives this book a vital edge: "Being both a trained brain scientist and an amateur astrobiologist allowed me to address the important issue of how intelligent nervous systems might evolve on other worlds and how they might differ from those found on earth.
"This background also enabled me to cut through the clutter and jargon, to present the information - and hard evidence - in lay terms which everyone can understand.
"This is an exciting time, and I hope 'From Dying Stars to the Birth of Life" will provide a fascinating insight, and an educational grounding, for anyone who wants to understand how this new science is underpinned - and where it is going."
For further information and review copies, contact:
Alan Murray, firstname.lastname@example.org - +44(0)20-7544-0016; +44(0)7887-877077
SOURCE Nottingham University Press