Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe

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What determines whether complex life will arise on a planet, or even any life at all? Questions such as these are investigated in this groundbreaking book. In doing so, the authors synthesize information from astronomy, biology, and paleontology, and apply it to what we know about the rise of life on Earth and to what could possibly happen elsewhere in the universe. Everyone who has been thrilled by the recent discoveries of extrasolar planets and the indications of life on Mars and the Jovian moon Europa will be fascinated by Rare Earth, and its implications for those who look to the heavens for companionship.

3 comments on “Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe”

  1. Leading a Charmed Life I learned about this book watching the History Channel’s multi-part documentary about the creation of the Earth and the amazing journey it has been on ever since. The book covers the same story but in greater detail, with particular emphasis on the origin of life and the equally amazing journey it has been on, from basic microbial life to complex animal life to highly intelligent life capable of conscious thought—to homo sapiens, us. Are we really the stuff of stars, as Carl Sagan said? How...

  2. I read this book twice; it changed how I view life on Earth The theory posited in "Rare Earth" has extraordinary implications, so extraordinary that I ended up reading the book twice. Essentially, the authors, both scientists, contend that due to the unique manner in which the earth was formed and the distinctiveness of its composition, it may be one of a rare few planets, or perhaps the only planet, inhabited by intelligent animal life within our galaxy or even other galaxies.We know that every day new planets are being discovered and...

  3. Are We Alone? This book has been controversial in the academic community since the day it was published in 2000. It seems to have sparked a little controversy among its readers as well. The authors main hypothesis is: "While microbial life may be common in the universe, complex life (animals, plants, etc.) would be very rare" and Rare Earth explains why this may be so. In our own Solar System, the discovery of microbes on any of our planets or moons would tend to support their idea while the discovery of...

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