Contents Preface to the Paperback Edition Preface to the First Edition Introduction: The Astrobiology Revolution and the Rare Earth Hypothesis Dead Zones of the Universe Rare Earth Factors 1 Why Life Might Be Widespread in the Universe 2 Habitable Zones of the Universe 3 Building a Habitable Earth 4 Life's First Appearance on Earth 5 How to Build Animals 6 Snowball Earth 7 The Enigma of the Cambrian Explosion 8 Mass Extinctions and the Rare Earth Hypothesis 9 The Surprising Importance of Plate Tectonics 10 The Moon, Jupiter, and Life on Earth 11 Testing the Rare Earth Hypotheses 12 Assessing the Odds 13 Messengers from the Stars References Index
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Renowned paleontologist Ward (Univ. of Washington), who has authored numerous books and articles, and Brownlee, a noted astronomer who has also researched extraterrestrial materials, combine their interests, research, and collaborative thoughts to present a startling new hypothesis: bacterial life forms may be in many galaxies, but complex life forms, like those that have evolved on Earth, are rare in the universe. Ward and Brownlee attribute Earth's evolutionary achievements to the following critical factors: our optimal distance from the sun, the positive effects of the moon's gravity on our climate, plate tectonics and continental drift, the right types of metals and elements, ample liquid water, maintainance of the correct amount of internal heat to keep surface temperatures within a habitable range, and a gaseous planet the size of Jupiter to shield Earth from catastrophic meteoric bombardment. Arguing that complex life is a rare event in the universe, this compelling book magnifies the significanceÄand tragedyÄof species extinction. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries.ÄGloria Maxwell, Penn Valley Community Coll. Lib., Kansas City Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
"...likely to cause a revolution in thinking..."
The New York Times
"...[the book] has hit the world of astrobiologists like a
Newsday (New York)
"...a sobering and valuable perspective..."
"...a startling new hypothesis..."
"...Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee offer a powerful
"...provocative, significant, and sweeping..."
Northwest Science & Technology
"...a stellar example of clear writing..."